EXCLUSIVE Books will remain at the OR Tambo International Airport.
The Supreme Court of Appeal on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by Airports Company SA (Acsa)‚ which had appealed against a Johannesburg High Court judgment preventing it from evicting Exclusive Books from the premises.
Acsa‚ which operates nine of the country’s airports‚ and Exclusive Books had concluded a lease for five years‚ following a tender process‚ which was scheduled to end on August 31 2013. But by the middle of August 2013‚ Acsa had not begun the process to request bids for the lease of the premises.
Acsa and Exclusive Books therefore agreed to extend the lease “month on month” as Acsa prepared to begin tender proceedings.
In June 2014‚ when Exclusive Books was advised that the lease had been awarded to another company‚ it brought a court application to set aside the award.
Despite this application‚ Acsa served the bookseller with a notice to vacate the premises.
The high court found in favour of Exclusive Books last year and dismissed Acsa’s eviction application.
It held that the extension agreement from 2013 included a tacit term that neither party was entitled to terminate the lease on notice “until completion of a valid and lawful tender process to identify a new tenant”.
The high court considered also that Exclusive Books was entitled to challenge the lawfulness of the tender process.
Judge Carole Lewis‚ in a judgment in which three other judges concurred‚ said that a landlord who sought eviction of a tenant from premises after it had awarded a tender to another must show that the termination was valid in the circumstances.
She said Acsa had not proved it had a right to terminate the lease with Exclusive Books on one month’s notice.
In a dissenting judgment‚ Judge Nigel Willis said a plain reading of the month-to-month contract indicated that Exclusive Books had no right to occupy the premises‚ unless there was a renewal.
He said as there was no renewal beyond August 2014‚ there was thereafter no right existing for Exclusive Books to remain in occupation.
Willis said the absence of a renewal served a dual function: it not only brought the lease to an end but also served as a notice to vacate.