This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
A very important case is that of Redwell v. Flint, which has been decided in the Court of Appeal. This was a case which came up from the County Court of Canterbury. An umpire called in by two valuers, who could not agree upon a market-garden tenant's claim for compensation on quitting, declared himself unable to make his award until he had legal direction as to the bearing of section 61 of the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1883, upon section 42 (2) of the Agricultural Holdings Act of 1908. This latter Act was supposed to have consolidated the law upon the subject! The County Court judge decided to direct against the market gardener, and his decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal; so once again the coach and four of the courts was driven through the Act, and a large number of market-garden tenants cultivating under yearly tenancies are deprived of the power to obtain compensation for capital and labour expended on improving their holdings, which they thought the law had once for all secured to them.
The matter was brought to the notice of the Central and Associated Chambers of Agriculture on the report of their Market Garden and Fruit Growing Committee. The gravity of the position was immediately perceived. Members of Parliament present, without respect to party, offered their assistance, with the result that Mr. Eyres-Monsell, the member of Parliament for Evesham, on 8 December, brought in a one-clause Bill, designed to repair the breach which had been made in the law. The autumn session of 1911 was, however, too near its close, and there was not time to pass the measure into law. However, it is hoped the Bill will be passed in the immediate future.
Section 42 of the Act makes it indisputable that when once it is agreed in writing that any holding shall be cultivated and treated as a market garden the provisions of the Act as to freedom to execute improvements, and as to claim to compensation for them, shall apply, and the tenant will therefore be secure. Even if by a subsequent clause in the agreement the tenant agrees to forgo his right to compensation, his claim will stand, and the landlord cannot enforce it, for Clause 5 provides: "Subject to the foregoing provisions of this Act, any contract (whether under seal or not) made by a tenant of a holding, by virtue of which he is deprived of his right to claim compensation under this Act in respect of any improvement comprised in the First Schedule hereto shall be void so far as it deprives him of that right". It is significant of the conditions affecting land tenure that such a clause should find its way into an Act of Parliament.
The difficulty referred to above comes in here, that many landowners and their advisers are averse to agreeing that their land should be used for the purposes of market gardening, which it has been seen can include fruit growing at the option of the tenant. If a tenant who desires to use the land as a market garden and to plant fruit on it agrees to a contract of tenancy in which it is not precisely stipulated that he may do so, then of course he forfeits his right to compensation at the end of his tenancy for anything except the ordinary agricultural items, which, as mostly inapplicable, will in his case amount to very little. If he cannot find a landowner who desires to be the landlord of a market gardener, what is he to do? Now it must be admitted that there is something to be said for the landowners' point of view, which has been quickened by some claims to compensation settled by arbitration soon after the passing of the 1896 Act, in which the decisions unduly favoured the tenants' claim.
A landlord ought not to be compelled, nor asked, to pay more for a tenant's improvements than a sum which will represent a capitalization of the annual rental value they have added to the holding, based upon a calculation of the probable duration of that added value if the holding were let again as a market garden. To this a tenant is morally and legally entitled, and to nothing more.
The mischief is that to assess such value requires a practical knowledge of market gardening, which few valuers possess, and hence you have had the edifying spectacle of a valuer who knows little about many of the things he is " valuing ", on one side, asking a ridiculously exorbitant price, and on the other side another valuer, knowing quite as much as his " friend ", offering an absurdly low one, and the whole thing being referred to a legal umpire more destitute of practical knowledge than either of them.
What wonder that some wicked people have hinted that the two valuations have been added together and the mean taken, after sufficient costs have been run up!
What wonder, too, that there have been decisions with but a distant relationship to the actual value of the things claimed for!
Happily the 1908 Act simplifies the procedure on arbitration, which, it may be hoped, will reduce the costs, and provides for the appointment of an Arbitrator by the Board of Agriculture, on the application of either party. It may be hoped that the Board will get some valuers conversant with market gardening on their list.
It is evident that the prospective market gardener must be prepared to enter into some arrangement which, while protecting his own interests, will get over the aversion of the landowner to the liability of a market-garden tenancy. A considerable part of the landowner's objection has been the uncertainty of the amount of the liability incurred. A liability of which the maximum amount and the time of maturing is known can be provided against, and some have found a way out of the deadlock by agreeing that the amount of compensation shall not exceed an average of a certain sum per acre. Provided the sum agreed upon is a reasonable one, such agreement for compensation would come within the provisions of Clause 4 of the Act of 1908, and be perfectly regular.
In Worcestershire what is called the " Evesham Custom" is largely made use of, and has provided a satisfactory basis of many tenancies. By this the outgoing tenant agrees to find a satisfactory incoming tenant who will pay him his valuation. It is manifest that such an arrangement will only work where it is the desire of the landlord to continue the holding under market gardening; it will not be applicable to those many holdings, near London especially, where at the conclusion of the tenancy the land is to be handed over to the operations of the builder. In such cases the rent appears to be the only area within which an arrangement can be come to, if a limitation of the amount of compensation to be claimed per acre as suggested above is not accepted as a settlement.