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Janred Properties V Enit Notes

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JANRED PROPERTIES V. ENIT FACTS Vendor's action for damages arising out of a contract for the sale of a long lease of an office property in London. The unusual features of the case derive from the status of the purchaser, Ente Nazionale Italiano per il Turismo (ENIT), which is an organisation created and regulated by Italian legislation as a state body supported largely, if not entirely, by Italian public funds. Shortly stated, ENIT's claim is that the contract was ultra vires its constitution and therefore void. The vendor, Janred Properties Ltd (Janred), claims that the contract was no worse than voidable and that ENIT is estopped from denying that it is bound by it. Immediately before 19 March 1982 Janred held 1 Princes Street and 6 Swallow Place, London SW1 (the property) under an underlease which had nearly 79 years to run, being due to expire on 29 December 2060. On 19 March 1982 two agreements were entered into between Janred of the one part and ENIT of the other part. The first was for the grant to ENIT of a sub-underlease of the property for 25 years at an initial rent of PS114,000 per annum. As will appear, it was a requirement of ENIT's constitution that its entry into the two agreements should be approved by the Italian Minister of Tourism and Entertainment (the minister). That approval was not given. Knox J decided, first, that, because ENIT's entry into the July agreement was not approved by the minister, Mr Moretti did not have power to authorise Mr Tomba to sign it and thereby bind ENIT. Furthermore, it has throughout been common ground that the minister never gave his approval to any such agreement. The important question which remains is whether, in the light of subsequent events, ENIT is estopped from denying that it is bound by such an agreement. HOLDING Applicable conflict of laws rule This question falls to be determined by an application of the rules of English private international law. Did ENIT have power to enter into the July agreement? Both sides relied on r 139 in Dicey and Morris The Con-flict of Laws (10th edn, 1980) p 730: '(1) The capacity of a corporation to enter into any legal transaction is governed both by the constitution of the corporation and by the law of the country which governs the transaction in question. (2) All matters concerning the constitution of a corporation are governed by the law of the place of incorporation.'

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