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Lawbite: Time to take notice

  • United Kingdom
  • Litigation and dispute management
  • Real estate dispute resolution


Thomas Gibson v Ian Douglas & ANR [2016] EWCA Civ 1266

The Court of Appeal has recently made some observations on the question of what termination notice period a licensee is entitled to.

The Court did not need to go into the question in detail as the appeal was dismissed on other grounds.

Before concluding his judgment, however, Sir James Munby highlighted (and Lord Justice Briggs agreed) that it was clear law that a lawful licensee is usually entitled to reasonable notice before being compelled to leave, to remove himself and his possessions. Adding to this, he observed that, in the absence of contractually specified periods, there was a spectrum of notice periods which could apply depending on the nature of the licence, and that these ranged from minutes (e.g. the unwanted visitor who presents himself at the front door) to years (e.g. a licensee who had occupied premises for 10 years).

In the case before him, where the licensee had occupied for some 5 years or so, he doubted the period could be measured in minutes, hours or days but thought weeks rather than months or years would be more appropriate.

A fact specific case but interesting observations on the approach to take when deciding what a “reasonable” notice period could be.

A reminder to specify, where possible, a notice period (and methods of serving such notices) in a contract or licence to give all involved certainty and possibly avoid litigation on that point.