The map so far:

Welcome to the London Law Map!

Many people think they are familiar with legal London - the Royal Courts of Justice, the Inns of Court, the Old Bailey etc. But the streets of London are also home to a huge amount of case law. Here is just a selection:

Friday, 1 August 2014

Ellen Street Estates Ltd v Minister of Health [1934] All ER Rep 385

What's the case about?
Mr Lithman held leases on properties in Ellen Street and Berner Street, Stepney. 

In 1920 the Minister of Health attempted a compulsory purchase of the properties. The properties were described as "by reason of their bad arrangement, or the narrowness or bad arrangement of the streets, dangerous or injurious to the health of the inhabitants of the area." Mr Lithman did not object to the compulsory purchase as he believed he would be entitled to compensation from the Minister of Health, as per the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919.

Some five or six years passed, during which time an arbitrator was appointed to assess the compensation due to Mr Lithman under the 1919 Act. The arbitrator held that Mr Lithman was not entitled to any compensation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as this point Mr Lithman began to raise objections. His solicitors discovered that under the law at the time, the compulsory purchase was unenforceable as it had not been concluded within three years. Rather than fight this out with Mr Lithman, the Minister of Health abandoned the compulsory purchase - but immediately started a fresh one, using powers in the newly enacted Housing Act 1930.

Ellen Street Estates Ltd, who by this time had taken ownership of the properties from Mr Lithman objected to the renewed attempt at a compulsory purchase. They argued that it was unlawful because the powers in the Housing Act 1930 were incompatible with provisions in the 1919 Act. 

Where is it on the map?
At point F.

Who won?
The Minister of Health won. The Court of Appeal held that the 1930 Act did not have to expressly repeal the 1919 Act in order to have precedence over it. Rather, the 1930 Act impliedly repealed the 1919 Act to the extent that it was incompatible with it. 

What's the principle of law?
Parliamentary sovereignty is a fundamental principle of UK constitutional law. Parliament is the highest source of law in the UK. No Parliament can pass a law that a future Parliament cannot change or repeal altogether.  

Whilst the 1919 Act stated that "any provisions of any Act... [that are] inconsistent with this Act... shall not have effect" this should not be read as an attempt to influence Parliament's ability to change the law in the future.  Parliament simply does not have that ability.

What's it like today?
The properties on Ellen Street were replaced with the Berner Estate in the mid-1930s. The parts of the estate built in the 1930s are particularly attractive, and clearly very well maintained.

The excellent St George in the East parish website has some photographs of the area as it looked prior to the compulsory purchase.  

Berner Street was renamed Henriques Street in the 1960s after the Jewish philanthropist Basil Henriques. It is also (in)famous as the place where Elizabeth Stride's body was found in 1888, in a murder attributed to Jack the Ripper.

It looks like the Henriques Street sign is covering up the old Berner Street sign on the side of this building.

Thanks to Michael Doherty at UCLAN for the inspiration for this post. His OpenLawMap project is well worth a look.

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