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Taking notice of contractual provisions

11 April 2014

In Friends Life Ltd v Siemens Hearing Instruments Ltd a lease provided that “the Tenant may determine the Term on the Termination Date by giving the Landlord not more than 12 month’s [sic] and not less than six month’s [sic] written notice, which notice must be expressed to be given under section 24(2) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.”

The tenant subsequently served notice, but did not specify that the notice was given under section 24(2) as required by the agreement. In its recent decision, the Court of Appeal held that the notice was not sufficient to terminate the lease because the tenant did not comply with the requirements of the notice provision.

To repeat the words of Lord Hoffman in Mannai Investment: “If the clause had said that the notice had to be on blue paper, it would have been no good serving a notice on pink paper, however clear it might have been that the tenant wanted to terminate the lease.”

Although a property law decision, this case underlines the importance of complying fully with notice provisions in other agreements – for example when serving notice to terminate a commercial contract.

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