Hutton v Warren
Court of Exchequer
Citations: (1836) 1 Meeson and Welsby 466; 150 ER 517.
In the early 1800s, there was a custom entitling tenants of farm land to receive from the landlord (or the next tenant) a reasonable allowance for seeds and labour bestowed on the land in the last year of the tenancy. This custom also required the tenant to leave any manure for the landlord.
The claimant was such a tenant. The lease stipulated that the claimant would consume 3/4ths of the hay and straw on the farm, spread the resulting manure on the land and leave any left over for the landlord. The defendant landlord eventually gave them notice to quit the tenancy. The defendant insisted that the claimant continue to work the land until he left. Accordingly, the claimant worked the land and used seeds on it, assuming that he would benefit from the custom.
However, the defendant refused to pay the allowance. The defendant argued that because there was an express term concerning manure in the lease, this excluded the custom.
- Was the defendant bound by the custom?
The court held in favour of the claimant. The custom resulted in a term being implied into the lease. The terms of the lease were not inconsistent with the custom since it only concerned manure – it did not exclude the tenant’s right to receive compensation for seed and labour.
This Case is Authority For…
Where there is a custom, the courts will presume that the parties intended the custom to be part of their contract unless there is evidence of contrary intention. A customary term will not be implied into a contract if it is inconsistent with the other terms of the contract. A customary term can be excluded expressly or by implication.