- ‘Conclusive certification’ in property and commercial disputes (Sara & Hossein v Blacks)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Property Disputes analysis: This was a dispute over service charges claimed by a landlord against a tenant under two commercial leases. The landlord relied on a contractual provision which allowed it to certify the sums payable by the tenant each year, such certificate ‘in the absence of manifest or mathematical error or fraud’ to be ‘conclusive’. The Court of Appeal, reversing the Deputy Master and Deputy Judge decisions below, held that the provision meant what it said and the landlord was entitled to summary judgment on its claim. The decision is relevant to any commercial contract where one party is permitted to certify matters of fact and law conclusively, subject only to limited rights of challenge by the other party; the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the principle that the courts will be very slow to reject the natural meaning of a term, even if it appears very imprudent for one party to have agreed it. Written by Richard Fowler, barrister at Maitland Chambers, London, and Richard Bartle, senior associate at Pinsent Masons LLP.
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