LANKA WEAVING MILLS LTD.
v.BOARD OF DIRECTORS, C.W.E.
COURT OF APPEAL
JAMEEL. J. ANDT. N. ABEYAWIRA. J.
C. COLOMBO D/152.
DECEMBER 17, 1986.
Landlord and tenant-Notice.
The law in regard to notice in cases where the Rent Act does not apply is that no noticeof any definite length of time is required but notice of a reasonable length of time shouldbe given. A month's notice has in several cases been considered reasonable.
Cases referred to:
Weerapperumal v. Davood Mohamed – (1898) 3 NLR 340.
Edward v. Dharmasena – (1964) 66 NLR 525.
APPEAL from judgment of the District Court of ColomboD. R. P. Gunetilleke for defendant-appellants.
Dr. H. W. Jayewardene. Q.C. with Miss T. Keenawinne for plaintiff-respondents.
January 13, 1987.
The plaintiff filed this action for the recovery of arrears of rent and forthe ejectment of the defendant from premises No. 58, ChathamStreet, Colombo 1. Both tenancy under the plaintiff as well as the’ receipt of the notice to quit (P8A) dated 28.7.1973 were admitted bythe defendants. They however denied the validity of the notice, whichgave the defendants only one month's time to pay all arrears and toquit and vacate the premises.
Admittedly the Rent Act does not apply to these premises. Whilstnot supporting the contention that the notice given in this case isillegal, learned counsel for the defendant urged that it would beunreasonable when one takes into account the fact that thesepremises are prime business premises situate in the heart of Fort.Bonser, C.J. in Weeraperumal v. DavoodMohamed(1) has stated:
"As I understand the law no notice of any definite length of time isrequired. It must be reasonable notice-reasonably sufficient, in theopinion of the judges, to admit of a tenant having an opportunity ofsecuring another house. A month's notice has in several cases beenconsidered reasonable, and in this case the tenant had more than amonth's notice."
However Sri Skanda Rajah, J. in the case of Edward v. Dharmasena(2) has stated:
"The law in our view is that a calendar month's notice is sufficientnotice in a month-to-month tenancy."
In this case although the notice dated 28th June 1973 requested thedefendant to quit by the 31st of July 1973 action was filed only on29th of July 1974.
In addition to denying that the rental for the premises in suit wasRs. 4,886 per month the defendants in paragraph 2 of their answerhave claimed that the monthly rent was only Rs.2,316.25.Accordingly, the defendants claimed that on a proper accounting thatnot only would there be no arrears, but in fact there would be somemoney owing to them from the plaintiffs and they claimed this inreconvention. After trial the learned District Judge accepted theposition that the rent was Rs. 4,886 per month and gave judgment forthe plaintiffs for arrears and ejectment.
This appeal is from that judgment. The learned District Judge hasseen and heard the witnesses who gave evidence for the plaintiffs. Nooral evidence was led on behalf of the defendants.
The main issues before the District Judge were:-
as to whether the agreed rent was Rs.4,886.80 as claimed bythe plaintiffs or Rs. 2,621.25 as claimed by the defendants?
as to the reasonableness of the notice given?
In support of their claim that the rent was indeed only Rs. 2,631.25the defendants relied on the letter P13. No tenancy agreement wasproduced. P13 is a letter addressed to the defendants by the plaintiffswherein the rent payable is referred to as Rs. 2,631.25. But theevidence in the case reveals that this statement has been retracted bythe plaintiffs and the correction indicated by them in their letter nowmarked P3. This letter was accompanied by a full statement ofaccounts, made out on the basis of the rent being Rs.4,886.80 permonth. It is also significant that the defendants themselves in theirletters PI, P2 and P11 have made mention of this figure atRs. 4,886.80. For these reasons and more particularly on thegeneral trend of the correspondence between the parties and in theabsence of any protests by the defendants when the amendedaccounts were served on them the learned District Judge has cometo the conclusion that the rent was Rs. 4,886.80 per month. We seeno reason to disturb that finding. That finding does have support fromthe evidence led in the case.
The learned District Judge has gone on to hold that one month'snotice is legal and in the circumstances of this case reasonable.Indeed the defendants were well aware that some three years orso ago the Board of Directors of the C.W.E. and also the Ministerconcerned had decided that action for ejectment should be filedagainst them. In all the circumstances of this case in spite of the factthat these are business premises in the heart of Fort, it cannot be saidthat the finding that the notice given was sufficient was either illegal orunreasonable. Mr. Gunatillake who appeared for thedefendants-appellants did not press the case for illegality. In the lightof the positive averment in the answer that the rent was Rs. 2,631.25learned counsel for the defendants conceded that he could not resistthe claim for ejectment. In the circumstances the only substantial
question that remains is the question as to what, if any, are the arrearsdue to the plaintiffs. Again, we see no error in the computation.Indeed none was pointed out or urged. No part of the arrears awardedappears to be prescribed. Accordingly the decree in this case isaffirmed and the appeal is dismissed with costs.
ABEYAWIRA, J. – I agree.