Rye v Rye

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Editorial Board of the JCLR: Managing Editor: Lord Justice Cocklecarrot M.R. · General Editor: Sir Jerrold Baxter-Morley, Q.C. · Principle witness: Mrs. Pinterman
Common law | Litigation | Contract | Tort |

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Rye v Rye [1962] AC 496 stands as common law authority — from Lord Denning, no less — for the proposition that “one cannot grant oneself a lease”, but is even more compelling testimony to the unlimited caprice of the English litigant.

For what kind of fellow would get into an argument with himself of sufficient feist as to bring formal legal proceedings against himself — let alone, upon losing them, to appeal it, all the way to the House of Lords? This is a feat of Haddockian proportions.

There is a certain kind of fellow who could start a fight in an empty building, as we all know. But when he is fighting about the ontological essence of his claim to be in that building, that is a whole other thing.

There is, no doubt, a sanguine explanation to be found in the 1962 volume of the Appeals Cases and being, as it was, penned by a giant of modern jurisprudence and a man of no small literary talent, doubtless it would repay reading, but — inasmuch as it would displace the image I currently have, of a man pursuing himself to the highest tribunal in the land to contest his right to occupy his own house — it would still rank as a disappointment, so I do not propose to find out what that explanation is, and would thank anyone who does happen to know, to keep it to themselves.

For now, rest assured: you cannot grant yourself a lease.

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