Forfeiture by peaceable re-entry: caught in the cross-fire?

New G Mei Uk Restaurant v Tin Kwok Keung ([2002] HKEC 255) is a curious case from the District Court. It arises out of an attempt by a landlord to re-take possession by peaceable re-entry yet the landlord and tenant are not parties to the litigation! The only way to get to the relevant premises (number 13) was by crossing the neighbouring property (number 12). This, of course, would need the consent of the tenant of 12. She was not asked for this (presumably because her sister was the tenant of number 13). Instead, the landlord of number 13 claimed to have the authority of the landlord of number 12 allowing this use of number 12. The tenant of number 12 claimed that this was a repudiatory breach of the lease of number 12 and sought the return of the rent deposit. The tenant of number 12 also joined the solicitors who had advised on the peaceable re-entry believing them to be her landlord’s solicitors while they were not. Both claims failed. The landlord of number 12 had not authorised the use of number 12 by the neighbouring landlord. The solicitors who acted for the landlord of number 13 (the second defendants) did not act for the landlord of number 12. Nevertheless, the solicitors were left to pay their own costs. The judge thought that they had brought this trouble on themselves by advising the use of peaceable re-entry. He thought that the tenant of number 12 should have brought her trespass proceedings against the landlord of number 13. The landlord could well have claimed an indemnity from his solicitors because their advice had been the source of the problem (para. 55).

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