A. D. Yaskey V. The Freetown City Council (1933)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Licence to erect a Stall—Abrupt revocation—removal of Stall by licensor’s servants—Detention of materials by licensor—Licencee entitled to reasonable notice of revocation—Wrongful conversion—Measure of damages.
The City Council of Freetown gave the plaintiff permission to erect a refreshment stall in their park at Freetown, for which privilege he was to pay the Council 5s. a month in advance, and the terms of the licence were to be embodied in a formal written agreement. The plaintiff erected his stall, apparently during November, 1930, and paid 5s. for that month. Some time in December, 1930, a written agreement was presented to the plaintiff for his signature, but he objected to one clause giving the Council power to terminate his licence by a 48 hours’ notice in writing in case of default in payment of the monthly 5s. or breach on his part of any of the other conditions of the agreement and declined to sign it. The plaintiff paid the 5s. due for December, 1930, but in arrear.
On the 13th of January, 1931, the Council wrote to inform the plaintiff that unless he paid all monies due to them, including a fee of £1 ls. for preparation of the agreement on or before the 31st of that month he would have to remove his stall. On the 2nd February, 1931, the plaintiff paid the Council the 5s. due for January and the £1 ls. fee, which sums of money were accepted by the Council leaving only 5s. due for the current month of February. The Council, however, on the 8th of that month (February, 1931), requested the plaintiff to remove his stall on the ground that the conditions laid down in their letter of the 13th of January, had not been complied with. They followed this letter up with another of the 19th of February, 1931, giving the plaintiff 48 hours’ notice to remove his stall and stating that unless he removed it the Council would do so.
The plaintiff did not remove his stall within the time allowed, and the Council removed it and put the materials of which it had been constructed in their Store informing the plaintiff he could have them on payment of certain monies which the Council claimed to be due to them.
On appeal and reversing the decision of the Court below, that the Council had acted wrongfully in terminating the plaintiff’s licence on a 48 hours’ notice which was unreasonable in the circumstances.
Held also that the Council had been guilty of a wrongful conversion of the plaintiff’s goods in respect of their removal of his stall and detention of the building materials.
Held, further, that in the circumstances of the case a month’s notice of revocations, expiring at the end of the month following that in which such notice was given, would have been reasonable.