Archive for the ‘service occupancy’ Category

Service occupier: what if the relevant work began after the employment contract commenced?

April 5, 2013

In Norris v Checksfield ([1991] 1 W.L.R. 1241, CA (Eng)) N employed C as a semi-skilled mechanic. A little later N asked C whether he would like to live in N’s bungalow. The conditions were that he would drive coaches for N. He would live in the bungalow so as to be available for this work at short notice. N dismissed C and sought possession of the bungalow. One of the questions was whether C was a licensee or a tenant. In particular, the English Court of Appeal had to consider whether it made any difference that the arrangement concerning the bungalow and the driving duties arose after the commencement of the employment. The Court of Appeal held that this made no difference and that C was a licensee and not a tenant.

Service occupancy: must the occupancy be necessary or is it enough that it be required by the employer?

March 25, 2013

In Glasgow Corporation v Johnstone ([1965] A.C. 609, HL) a full-time church officer was required by the terms of his employment to occupy a house next to the church. The house was part of the same physical structure as the church and one could only get to the house through the church. The question, for rating purposes, was whether the house was occupied for the charitable purposes of the church. This question had two parts: (i) was the house occupied by the church or the employee? and (ii) , if occupied by the church, whether it was occupied for charitable purposes. The House of Lords held that the house was (i) occupied by the church, (ii) for its charitable purposes.

The first question was like asking whether the church or the employee had exclusive possession of the house. The House of Lords decided that the church had exclusive possession if either the terms of employment required the employee to occupy the house or the occupation was necessary for the performance of his duties. Lord Guest emphasised that the obligation imposed on the employee to occupy the house must not be capricious; it must be imposed for the more efficient performance of the employee’s duties.

The majority of the House of Lords thought that, since the house was occupied by the church then it was for the purposes of its charitable activities. Lord Hodson said that, given the answer to the first question, this question had to be considered from the church’s point of view.