New rules on applications for succession to tenancies

The law relating to the application to the Agricultural Land Tribunal (ALT) for succession on death of a tenant under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 has been tested by the case of Daniel James Adams v Thomas James Cecil Jones, 

which has been the subject of an appeal to the Upper Tribunal (UT). The application to the ALT had named the wrong person as the landlord, but the UT ruled that the application was still valid for the purposes of the 1986 Act.

The respondent, Mr Cecil Jones, had applied to the ALT for succession to the tenancy of Cyffionos, an agricultural holding at Cross Inn, Llandysul, Ceredigion, following the death of his father, Mr John Lloyd Jones, who had been tenant of the holding since 1966.  The application contained a mistake.  The landlord of the holding was a company, Adams DSB Ltd (the company), but on the application form Mr Jones’ agent named the appellant, Mr Dan Adams, as landlord and as the respondent to the application for succession.  Mr Adams had never been the landlord of the holding, but he was the sole director of the company.  By the time Mr Jones appreciated that a mistake had been made it was too late for him to make a new application as more than three months had passed.

The ALT decided that the mistake was not fatal to Mr Jones’ application.  It took the view that anything Mr Adams knew was also known by the company and that the company had therefore been aware, within three months of the death of Mr Jones’ father, that an application had been made to the ALT for a direction entitling Mr Jones to succeed to the tenancy.  By a decision issued on 2 March 2020 the ALT substituted the Company as respondent to the application in place of Mr Adams.  

The issue in the appeal to the UT was whether the ALT was entitled to take that course or whether, as Mr Adams and the company argued, the application was not valid at all because it was not made against the landlord of the holding and cannot be cured by amendment or substitution after the expiry of the three-month time limit provided by section 39(1) of the 1986 Act. 

Th Deputy Chamber President concluded that the ALT reached the right conclusion and dismissed the appeal.

to chat