CRJ Services Ltd V Lanstar Ltd
Technology and Construction Court
19 April 2011
A plant hire company hired recycling plant and equipment and had done business with the hirer for a number of years. The hirer had entered into a number of plant hire contracts for short periods (of one day and three days). The hirer engaged a manager to run one of its sites. The manager was given the job title of "landfill materials and re-cycling facilities manager". The manager was given authority at least to enter into short term contracts of a few days or possibly a few weeks duration, was required to “run things” at the site, let a number of short term hire contracts, described himself when he signed these contracts as the hirer’s consultant or manager and subsequently let the three long term contracts. On the manager's dismissal, the hirer terminated the contracts. The plant hire company obtained an adjudicator's award for outstanding payments under one of these three contracts. The hirer opposed the summary judgment application to enforce the award on the ground that the manager did not have authority to enter into the contract.
Akenhead J held that there was no reasonable prospect on the evidence before the court of the hirer being able to establish that the manager did not have appropriate authority to enter into the contract in question with the result that the adjudicator's award should be enforced. The fact that the hirer regularly paid the weekly or monthly hire charges under the three long term hire contracts entered into by its manager pointed strongly to him having been given implied authority so far as the outside world was concerned. The manager’s job title of "landfill materials and re-cycling facilities manager" and the job description to which he was appointed pointed strongly to him having had ostensible or apparent authority. This was so notwithstanding that there was conflicting evidence that the manager internally did or did not have authority to enter into the three long term contracts. In particular there was nothing material which would have alerted the plant hire company to the manager not having authority prior to the signing of the contract in question or for quite a few months thereafter.