2. In that case, the facts involved an agreement for a lease
of a mill for seven years at a rent payable quarterly in
arrears, with a provision entitling the landlord to
demand a year’s rent in advance.
No lease was ever entered into in deed form and thus
the lease as such was void at common law.
The tenant entered into possession and paid rent in
accordance with the agreement for 18 months.
The landlord then demanded a year’s rent in advance.
The tenant failed to pay.
3. The landlord levied for distress at common law. (The
remedy of distress permits a landlord to seize a
tenant’s chattels and to hold them until rent is paid. If
rent is not paid the chattels may be sold.) The tenant
sought an injunction against the distress and damages
for illegal distress.
4. The issue before the court was whether the landlord’s
common law remedy of distress was permitted despite
the absence of a lease at common law.
Under the pre-judicature system such a result could
only have occurred if there was in existence a valid
common law lease.
On the facts of Walsh v Lonsdale, that would have
required the landlord to obtain a decree of specific
performance of the agreement for lease.
The English Court of Appeal found for the landlord,
thereby holding that he was entitled to distrain.
5. In his decision in Walsh v Lonsdale, at 15, Jessel MR
said that, following the Judicature Act:
There are not two estates as there were formerly, one
estate at common law … and an estate in equity under
the agreement. There is only one Court, and the equity
rules prevail in it. The tenant holds under an
agreement for lease. He holds therefore, under the
same terms in equity as if a lease had been granted, it
being a case in which both parties admit that relief is
capable of being given by specific performance.