West Bromwich Building Society v Wilkinson: HL 30 Jun 2005

The Society had taken possession of a property in 1989. It located the defendants many years later and sought payment of the excess after deduction of the proceeds of sale, and for interest. The borrowers claimed the debt was expired by limitation under s20. The Society said that the debt was a judgment debt which was no longer due under s20, but was now and action on a speciality under s8, for which the limitation period is also 12 years, but the date from which it commenced differed.
Held: The lender’s appeal was dismissed. Putting aside actions for the recovery of land, where questions of title are involved, English law attributes periods of limitation by reference to the cause of action which the claimant seeks to enforce. Lord Hoffmann: ‘ordinarily time will run from the moment when the cause of action designated by the appropriate rule has arisen. It would be strange if the lender could then stop time running by his own act in exercising the power of sale. If, therefore, the cause of action when it arose was a claim to a debt secured on a mortgage, I do not think section 20 ceases to apply when the security is subsequently realised.’ The deed provided that until an event of breach occurred, the power of sale might not be exercised, and the money was not repayable. On this basis the cause of action would have arisen under either section more than 12 years before the action.
Lord Hoffmann, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell
Times 04-Jul-2005, [2005] UKHL 44, [2005] 1 WLR 2303
Bailii, House of Lords
Limitation Act 1980 20(1) 8(1)
England and Wales
CitedHopkinson and Others and Birmingham Mid-Shires Building Society v Tupper CA 30-Jan-1997
The plaintiffs appealed from an order striking out their claim for want of prosecution. The defendant’s property had been sold by the mortgagees, and the plaintiffs as assignees of their debt sought to recover the balance outstanding from the . .
Appeal fromWilkinson and Another v West Bromwich Building Society CA 30-Jul-2004
The Society had repossessed and sold the mortgagors’ house in 1990. It knew then that there was a shortfall, but took no further recovery proceedings until 2002. What was the date from which the relevant limitation period began to run? Though the . .
CitedGlobal Financial Recoveries Ltd v Jones ChD 13-Jan-2000
The defendant entered into a mortgage loan. The property was repossessed and he faced an action for recovery of the shortfall. It was argued that the claim was out of time after six years. The court held that the debt remained a specialty debt and . .
CitedScottish Equitable Plc v Thompson and Another CA 6-Feb-2003
The mortgage deed, which was a second mortgage, did not contain any express covenant to repay the principal sum, but only for monthly interest instalments with no element of capital repayment, since the principal was to be paid from an insurance . .
ApprovedBristol and West plc v Bartlett and Another; Paragon Finance plc v Banks; Halifax plc v Grant CA 31-Jul-2002
The defendants resisted claims by lenders for the payment of mortgage debts. In each case the lender had exercised the power of sale before issuing proceedings for possession. The defendants queried the limitation period applicable.
Held: The . .
CitedTwentieth Century Banking Corporation Ltd v Wilkinson ChD 1977
Property was charged in 1973. The principal was be repayable in 1988 with interest. There was no provision by which a default made the power of sale exercisable or the advance repayable. When the borrower defaulted, the mortgagee had to apply to . .
CitedHornsey Local Board v Monarch Investment Building Society CA 1889
The local authority had incurred expense in paving a street. They were entitled to apportion those expenses amongst the owners of the properties fronting onto that street and summarily to recover from the respective owners the amounts so . .

Cited by:
CitedDoodes v Gotham, Perry ChD 17-Nov-2005
The trustee in bankruptcy had taken a charge on the property in 1992 to support the bankruptcy in 1988. He sought to enforce it in 2005. The chargor appealed an order which denied he was protected by limitation.
Held: The appeal succeeded. . .
CitedLittman and Another v Aspen Oil (Broking) Ltd CA 19-Dec-2005
A lease had been granted with a break clause, which the tenant exercised. The Landlord said it had not complied with its obligations and was not free to exercise that clause. The clause had included the word ‘landlord’ where it should have read . .
CitedKPMG Llp v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd ChD 31-Jan-2006
. .
CitedBradford and Bingley Plc v Rashid HL 12-Jul-2006
Disapplication of Without Prejudice Rules
The House was asked whether a letter sent during without prejudice negotiations which acknowledged a debt was admissible to restart the limitation period. An advice centre, acting for the borrower had written, in answer to a claim by the lender for . .
CitedSigma Finance Corporation, Re; (in administrative receivership) SC 29-Oct-2009
The court considered how the losses of the insolvent company were to be distributed as between secured creditors and preferential creditors, given the terms of the applicable trust deed.
Held: The court considered the interpretations of the . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 04 January 2021; Ref: scu.228064