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C & P Haulage v Middleton [1983] EWCA Civ 5

License of business premises; whether entitlement to damages for wasted expenditure

Facts

C&P granted Middleton a license to occupy premises from where he would conduct his business. The agreement expressly stated the license was renewable every six months and that fixtures at the premises were not to be removed at the end of the license. Middleton incurred expenses making the premises suitable for his work. Ten weeks prior to the expiry of a term, Middleton was unlawfully evicted and he sought damages from C&P.

Issues

Middleton contended he had been wrongfully evicted as he had not been given the requisite notice period. He sought damages for the unlawful eviction, and also claimed compensation for the costs of the improvements he had made to the premises. C&P argued that removal of fixtures from the premises was in breach of contract and, therefore, Middleton could not claim for the value of the improvements. They argued that following the eviction, he had conducted his business from home, and, therefore, had not sustained any loss. C&P argued that in seeking to recover the cost of the improvements, Middleton was asking for damages to put him in the same position he would have been if the contract had never been made, and not as if the contract had been fulfilled, which was the appropriate measure of damages for breach of contract.

Held

Middleton was awarded nominal damages for the wrongful eviction. Awarding him the cost of the improvements would place him in a better position than he would have been had the contract been fulfilled, and this was not the function of the courts. Had he been appropriately given notice, he would not have been able to recover these expenses and so he could not claim them as losses flowing from the breach.


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