Wife in Occupation had Overriding Interest
The wife had made a substantial financial contribution to the purchase price of the house which was registered only in her husband’s name, and charged to the bank. The bank sought possession. The wife resisted saying that she had an overriding interest.
Held: Her equitable interest was not only a ‘minor interest’ within section 3 (xv) of the Act, but was also protected as an overriding interest because she occupied the land. The House considered the relationship between registered interests on the one hand, and equitable ‘minor interests’ and trusts on the other. Lord Wilberforce said: ‘The system of land registration, as it exists in England, which long antedates the Land Registration Act 1925, is designed to simplify and to cheapen conveyancing. It is intended to replace the often complicated and voluminous title deeds of property by a single land certificate, on the strength of which land can be dealt with. In place of the lengthy and often technical investigation of title to which a purchaser was committed, all he has to do is consult the register; from any burden not entered on the register, with one exception, overriding interests, he takes free. Above all, the system is designed to free the purchaser from the hazards of notice – real or constructive – which, in the case of unregistered land, involve him in inquiries, often quite elaborate, failing which he might be bound by equities. The Law of Property Act 1925 contains provisions limiting the effect of the doctrine of notice, but it still remains a potential source of danger to purchasers. By contrast, the only provisions of the Land Registration Act 1925 with regard to notice are provisions which enable a purchaser to take the estate free from equitable interests or equities whether he has notice or not. (See, for example, section 3 (xv) ‘minor interests’). The only kind of notice recognised is by entry on the register.
‘The exception just mentioned consists of ‘overriding interests’ listed in section 70. As to these, all registered land is stated to be deemed to be subject to such of them as may be subsisting in reference to the land, unless the contrary is expressed on the register. The land is so subject regardless of notice actual or constructive. In my opinion therefore, the law as to notice as it may affect purchasers of unregistered land, whether contained in decided cases, or in a statute (the Conveyancing Act 1882, section 3, Law of Property Act, section 199) has no application even by analogy to registered land. Whether a particular right is an overriding interest, and whether it affects a purchaser, is to be decided upon the terms of section 70, and other relevant provisions of the Land Registration Act 1925, and upon nothing else. In relation to rights connected with occupation, it has been said that the purpose and effect of section 70 (1) (g) of the Land Registration Act 1925 was to make applicable to registered land the same rule as previously had been held to apply to unregistered land.’ The existence of overriding interests within the system of registered conveyancing might be troublesome for purchasers, but ‘What is involved is a departure from an easy-going practice of dispensing with enquiries as to occupation beyond that of the vendor and accepting the risks of doing so. To substitute for this a practice of more careful enquiry as to the fact of occupation, and if necessary, as to the rights of occupiers can not, in my view of the matter, be considered as unacceptable. I adhere to this, but I do not accept the argument which learned counsel for the appellant sought to draw from it. His submission was that, in applying section 70(1)(g), we should have regard to and limit the application of the paragraph in the light of the doctrine of notice. But this would run counter to the whole purpose of the Act. The purpose, in each system, is the same, namely, to safeguard the rights of persons in occupation, but the method used differs. In the case of unregistered land, the purchaser’s obligation depends upon what he has notice of – notice actual or constructive. In the case of registered land, it is the fact of occupation that matters. If there is actual occupation, and the occupation has rights, the purchaser takes subject to them. If not, he does not. No further element is material.’
On the plain meaning of the words ‘actual occupation’, what is required is ‘physical presence, not some entitlement at law’ these words are ordinary words of plain English, and should, in my opinion, be interpreted as such’ and ‘the word ‘actual’ merely emphasises that what is required is physical presence, not some entitlement in law’ and ‘undivided shares in land can only take effect in equity, behind a trust for sale upon which the legal owner is to hold the land.’
Lord Wilberforce, Viscount Dilhorne, Lord Salmon and Lord Roskill
 AC 487,  2 All ER 408,  3 WLR 138,  UKHL 4
Land Registration Act 1925 70(1)
England and Wales
Cited – National Provincial Bank Ltd v Hastings Car Mart Ltd CA 1964
The purpose and effect of section 70(1)(g) of the Land Registration Act 1925 was to make applicable to registered land the same rule as previously had been held to apply to unregistered land. (Russell LJ, Dissenting) ‘Nor should the mind be in any . .
Cited – National Provincial Bank Limited v Ainsworth HL 1965
The significance of the distinction between occupation and rights was that although the deserted wife was in actual occupation of the former matrimonial home, the quality of her rights was not such as to be capable of amounting to an overriding . .
Approved – Bridges v Mees ChD 1957
An overriding interest, namely an estate contract, was protected under s. 70(1) of the Act even though it could have been protected by a caution under s. 59. . .
Approved – Hodgson v Marks ChD 1970
The plaintiff, an elderly widow, transferred her house into the name of her lodger, but remained in occupation of the house, on exactly the same basis as before, until the lodger sold the house and the purchaser had mortgaged it to a building . .
Appeal From – Williams and Glyn’s Bank Ltd v Boland CA 1979
Money was raised on mortgage of registered land and paid to a single trustee holding the land on trust for sale, and it was held that the rights of beneficiaries who were in occupation and of whom no enquiries had been made were not mere minor . .
Overruled – Cedar Holdings Ltd v Green CA 1981
A property was held in the joint names of a former husband and wife. To obtain a loan for the husband, a legal charge over the property was executed by the husband, but he had another woman execute for the wife, pretending to be her. The chargee . .
Cited – Malory Enterprises Ltd v Cheshire Homes (UK) Ltd and others CA 22-Feb-2002
The applicant said that its land had been misappropriated, and sought rectification of the register against the respondent who was a successor in title having bought the land from the wrongdoer.
Held: On registration, section 69 operated to . .
Distinguished – City of London Building Society v Flegg And Another HL 14-May-1987
A couple bought a property and registered it in their own names with substantial financial assistance from the parents of one of them. The parents occupied the house with them. Without telling the parents, the owners borrowed again, executing . .
Applied – Kingsnorth Finance Co Ltd v Tizard ChD 1986
The marriage between the defendants had broken down, but the wife still visited the house regularly, staying and caring for the children when the husband was away. The house was held in his sole name. He charged it to the plaintiffs, who now sought . .
Cited – Ferrishurst Ltd v Wallcite Ltd CA 30-Nov-1998
A person in actual occupation of registered land at time of transfer can enforce his rights against the transferee. A sub-underlessee in occupation of part could enforce an option to purchase against the freeholder acquiring intermediate registered . .
Cited – Dougbar Properties Ltd v Keeper of the Registers of Scotland SCS 9-Feb-1999
Even if there existed an acknowledged error in the Land Registry, rectification was the only available remedy. The existence of an inaccuracy did not alter the legal reality that the registered proprietor had a right created by registration. In . .
Cited – State of India v Sood and Others CA 30-Oct-1996
Beneficial equitable interests in land were overreached by a mortgage despite no the fact that no capital was actually advanced under the charge. . .
Cited – Bankers Trust Company v Namdar and Namdar CA 14-Feb-1997
The bank sought repayment of its loan and possession of the defendants’ property. The second defendant said that the charge had only her forged signature.
Held: Non-compliance with section 2 of the 1989 Act does not make a bargain illegal, and . .
Cited – Halifax Building Society v Campbell-Lebens CA 4-Jun-1998
Cited – Bhullar and Another v McArdle CA 10-Apr-2001
The defendant had registered a caution against the claimant’s land at the Land Registry. The claimant sought its removal and now appealed an order for rectification of the register against him. The parties had reached oral agreements as to the . .
Cited – Pritchard Englefield v Steinberg and Steinberg ChD 30-Jul-2004
Enforcement of charging order absolute. . .
Cited – National Westminster Bank Plc, Malhan Malhan v Malhan, The Secretary of State for Consitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor ChD 22-Apr-2004
Cited – Lloyd and others v Dugdale and Another CA 21-Nov-2001
The claimants asserted a right to possession of land, and the defendant resisted, claiming a proprietary estoppel. A predecessor had intended to grant a sub-lease to the defendant, who had arranged for his company JAD Ltd to execute major works on . .
Cited – Link Lending Ltd v Bustard CA 23-Apr-2010
The respondent had been detained in a secure mental unit for a year. In that time her home was charged to the appellant. She asserted that she had been a person in actual occupation. The chargee now appealed against a finding that the respondent had . .
Cited – Chaudhary v Yavuz CA 22-Nov-2011
The court was asked ‘whether and if so how an easement arising informally and not protected by any entry at the Land Registry can be effective against a purchaser of the land over which the easement would be exercised.’ The parties respectively . .
Cited – Cook v The Mortgage Business Plc CA 24-Jan-2012
The land owners sought relief from possession orders made under mortgages given in equity release schemes: ‘If the purchaser raises all or part of the purchase price on mortgage, and then defaults, the issue arises whether the mortgagee’s right to . .
Cited – Scott v Southern Pacific Mortgages Ltd and Others SC 22-Oct-2014
The appellant challenged a sale and rent back transaction. He said that the proposed purchaser had misrepresented the transaction to them. The Court was asked s whether the home owners had interests whose priority was protected by virtue of section . .
Cited – Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset CA 13-May-1988
Claim by a wife that she has a beneficial interest in a house registered in the sole name of her husband and that her interest has priority over the rights of a bank under a legal charge executed without her knowledge. The case raises a point of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Registered Land, Banking
Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.180518