Perumal v. Nanayalckara
1977Present .-Weeraratne, J., Vythialingam, J.,
and Colin Thome, J.
M. S. PERUMAL, Petitioner, and E. NANAYAKKARA,
S C. 55/76—D. C. Colombo 988/43/73
Conciliation Boards Act-—Settlement of dispute between landlord andtenant—Validity of such settlement—Rent Act No. 7 of 1972—Section 22 thereof.
In an application to revise a settlement of a dispute between alandlord and a tenant under the provisions of the Conciliation BoardsAct No. 10 of 1958 (which settlement was enforced as a decree ofCourt under the Act) it was contended inter alia on behalf of thetenant that (n) a tenant cannot contract out of the Rent Act ; (b)the settlement before the Conciliation Board was invalid as itcontravened Section 22(1) of the Rent Act No. 7 of 1972.
that a settlement effected under the Conciliation Boards Act
cannot be equated to a voluntary settlement outside Courtand that such settlement acquires statutory force in termsof the Act;
that Section 22(1) of the Rent Act does not operate as a
bar to the settlement of a dispute between a landlord anda tenant before a Conciliation Board and such settlementis deemed to be a decree of Court in terms of Section 13of Conciliation Boards Act.
A PPLICATION in revision.
S. F. A. Cooray, for the Petitioner.
H L. de Silva, for the Respondent.
Cur. adv. wit.
WEERAJtATNE, J. — Perumal v. Nanayakkara
January 20, 1977. Weeraratne, J.—
This is an application by the defendant-petitioner seeking arevision of the settlement of a dispute under the provisions ofthe Conciliation Boards Act (No. 10 of 1958) between landlordand tenant, and which by virtue of the provisions of the said Actwas enforced as a decree of the District Court of Colombo. Thedecree was sought to be set aside inter alia on the ground offraud.
The plaintiff-respondent who is the landlord of premisesNo. 3/1, Edmonton Road gave it to the petitioner on a monthlyrental of Rs. 150. The latter was occupying the said premisesfor about 10 years when sometime towards the end of 1972 thepetitioner paid the assessed rent of Rs. 50 per month throughthe Colombo Municipal Council. The plaintiff in 1973 sent a noticeto quit the said premises on the ground that they were requiredfor his personal use. When there was no response to the saidnotice the plaintiff made an application to the appropriate Con-ciliation board for a settlement of the dispute stating that thepremises were reasonably required for his occupation as hewas living in a rented house. A settlement was thereafter effectedbetween the parties under which it was agreed inter alia thatthe petitioner would vacate the premises on 3.11.77. The petitionerin his affidavit states that sometime in July 1974 he became awarethat the plaintiff owned 2 other houses 3/2, and 3/3 EdmontonRoad, at the time the settlement was entered into. The plaintiffhad in July 1974, moved into premises 3/2 and rented out premises3/3 Edmonton Road. The certificate of the Chairman of the Con-ciliation Board had also been enforced as a decree of Court, andit is this decree and the settlement which is presently soughtto be set aside as referred to earlier.
Counsel for the defendant-petitioner submitted that the appli-cation to the Conciliation Board for a settlement was agreed uponby the petitioner on the statement made by the respondent land-lord that he was at that time living in a rented house and thatthe said premises were reasonably required for his occupation.The petitioner consequently agreed to vacate the premises by the3rd of November 1977. It was only sometime in 1974 (after thesettlement had been enforced as a decree of Court) that thepetitioner became aware of the other two houses owned by theplaintiff-respondent. Counsel argued that the petitioner agreedto a settlement as a result of a fraud practised upon him andconsequently the settlement and decree should be set aside.’ Itseems to me that the plaintiff-respondent’s reply to this pointin his affidavit, namely that the petitioner was fully aware of hisownership of the other two premises long before 1974, must
WEERARATNT3, J. — Ferumal o. Nanayakkara57 5
indeed be true because the other two premises were adjoiningthe premises 3/1 occupied by the petitioner and the petitionershould certainly have seen him carrying on repairs to them,especially in 1973 when he did extensive renovations. Therespondent’s position had not since been controverted by thepetitioner. I see therefore no merit in his contention on thequestion of fraud practised on him. Counsel next submittedthat a tenant cannot contract out of the Rent Act. By this ismeant that an agreement by way of a settlement cannot over-ride the protection a tenant has under the Rent Act. Counselin this connection cited the case of Ibrahim vs. Mansoor (54 NLR217 at page 224). In this case a bench of five judges statedthat it was not competent for a party to contract out of a require-ment of obtaining the authority of the Rent Control Board inwriting authorising “ the institution of such action or proceeding.”Any decree entered in an action without such authority would bea nullity. This proposition so clearly set out by the bench ofjudges would certainly have no application to the present matterwhere there was a valid settlement arrived at between the partieson the basis of the Conciliation Boards Act. Counsel for thepetit oner drew a distinction between settlements arrived at in anaction pending in a court and those effected outside a court asfor instance the one under discussion which was before a Concili-ation Board and not in a court.
A settlement effected under the Conciliation Boards Act cannotcertainly be equated to a voluntary settlement outside Court.Learned Counsel for the plaintiff-respondent submitted that asettlement under a statute (in this case the Conciliation BoardsAct) acquires a statutory force. An examination of the iftovrsionsof the Conciliation Boards Act No. 10 of 1958 (as amended by theConciliation Boards Amendment Act No. 12 of 1963) makes itincumbent on the Board “ to make every effort to induce partiesto a settlement to the dispute, and where such parties agree to asettlement, record such settlement and issue a copy thereofsigned by the President .— to each party.” Section 12 (1).There is a provision in the Act, section 13 (1) for parties torepudiate a settlement within one month “ and where such noti-fication is made with such reasons stated therein such settlementshall cease to be in force from the date specified in such notifica-tion. ” Section 13 (3) of the Act sets out that, “ such settlementshall with effect from the date of such filing (in this case .in .theDistrict Court) be deemed to be a decree of that courtand such of the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code as relate tothe execution of decrees shall as far as practicable annlv rrmtatismutandis to and in relation to such settlement.” It is indeedquite clear that a settlement entered into before a Conciliation
WEKRAJtATNE, J. — P cranial v. Nanayakkara
Board bears the same force as a settlement in a pending action.Finally Counsel for the petitioner argued that the agreementbefore the Board is invalid because it contravenes the provisionsof the Rent Act. He referred us to Section 22 (1) (b) RentAct No. 7 of 1972)
Section 22 (1)
“ Notwithstanding anything in any other law, no actionor proceedings for ejectment of the tenant of any premisesthe standard rent (determined under section 4) of which fora month does not exceed one hundred rupees shall be insti-tuted in or entertained by any court, unless where—
such premises, being premises which have been let to
the tenant on or after the date of commencement ofthis Act, are, in the opinion of the court, reasonablyrequired for occupation as a residence tor the landlord,or any member of the family of the landlord, or forpurposes of the trade, business, profession, vocationor employment of the landlord ;.. ”
In this connection it must be remembered that the said premiseswere let to the petitioner about ten years prior to the filing ofthis application in 1975, consequently provision (b) of section22(1) would not apply to this case. Be that as it may, it wouldappear that Section 22(1) deals with an action or proceeding forejectment in a Court of Law. The provisions of this section couldnot possibly apply to a statutory proceeding in which the Chair-man of a Conciliation Board acting under the Act records asettlement, (which was not repudiated). Then when a copy of thesettlement is received in the relevant District Court, and filedof record by the District Judge, it is by a process of legal fiction“ deemed to be a decree of that court ” as shown earlier. As statedby Counsel for the plaintiff respondent, this is no action, buta statutory proceeding leading to a decree by operation of law.In my opinion section 22(1) of the Rent Act does not operate asa bar to the entering into of a valid settlement by the partiesin this matter under the Conciliation Boards Act.
This application is accordingly refused with costs.Vythialxngam, J.—I agree.
Colin-Thome, J.—I agree.
M. S. PERUMAL, Petitioner, and E. NANAYAKKARA, Respondent