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History of Land Laws in England and Singapore

Question:

Write about the Legal Aspects of Property Law for Paul and Rose.

Land laws are the laws of land which are related to the rights of usage, exclusion and alienation of the other person from land (Stroud, 2013). The land laws history of England are applicable on the Singapore land laws, and these can be traced back to the Romans, and even to rule of Saxon monarchs which was the Dark Age. The reason for this is that most of the history of human beings deems the land as being a source of their private wealth. The English Court of Chancery led to the development of this body of law, which is deemed as equity and this can be seen as being concurrent o the common law in the present age (Hudson, 2013).

Court of Chancery had a key role of enforcing the usage and the role of this could not be accommodated through a stringent framework of the laws of land. And owing to this role, there was a differentiation drawn through the legal interests and the equitable interests (Moffat, Bean & Probert, 2009). And when it comes it the land laws, the registration of land is deemed as a crucial aspect of it. And this land registration system is based on three key principles, i.e., insurance, curtain and mirror (Ford, 2015). In the following parts, the different aspects of these concepts have been discussed with reference to the given case study.

The key issue in this case has George as the plaintiff and Paul as the defendant. And the case revolves around the legal rights which George can claim regarding the house which had been purchased by Paul and Rose. The rights relate to whether George can be evicted in a successful manner by Paul, or not. The creation of express trust of George would be deemed as the key factor which influences the claims made by Paul for evicting him from the house.

The co-ownership in the equity is deemed as tenancy or the joint tenancy commonly. It is crucial to show the manner in which the ownership is held and where it is a tenancy in common, it becomes crucial to determine the proportion of shareholding which is held by each of the tenants. The extent of the entitlement with regards to the declaration of trust can be freely determined in the express trusts (Liew, 2017). This results in the implications being overridden by the facts, the proportion of the contribution. However, where there is no express trust, for instance in such a case where the trust had been created through a constructive trust or the parties fail to provide the extent of ownership of conveyance, the beneficial entitlement is simply assumed under the law through the conduct of the people (E-Law Resources, 2017a).

Development of Land Laws through the Court of Chancery

In Stack v Dowden [2007] 2 AC 432, Dowden and Stack co-habited the house and purchased in their joint name. However, no declaration had been made with regards to the beneficial interest’s entitlement (Gravells, 2013). The purchasing price of the property came from the savings and sale of property of Dowden. And the remaining was obtained through a mortgage. Upon the separation of parties, a sale of property and equal distribution of proceeds was sought by Stack. The court held that as the legal title had been held jointly, the beneficial interest had to be held jointly and this presumption could only be displaced in case the evidence was shown that this was not the intention of the parties (E-Law Resources, 2017b).

A trust denotes the fiduciary relationship amidst parties in which the beneficiary interest of the beneficiary is protected for the land or property which is given to another party, i.e., the trustee (E-Law Resources, 2017b). Gissing v Gissing [1971] AC 881 provides that where there is an absence of declaration of the trust, the constructive trusts have to be applied particularly when there has been an inducement of trustee where the person acts in their detriment by believing the other. In such a case, such person would deem to hold a beneficiary interest in the land (Clarke & Greer, 2016). Eves v Eves [1975] 1 WLR 1338 was a case where the house was brought in the name of the defendant but the same was not contributed directly by the plaintiff. Due to these reasons, applying constructive tryst, the claimant was allowed to obtain one quarter of the beneficial interest (Sexton & Bogusz, 2015).

The proprietary estoppel is something which helps in creating the proprietary interest in a property or a land, particularly where there is an absence of the standard or the proper formalities. The operations of this is based on the unconscionable behaviour which is used to award the interest in the land, as being a remedy, particularly when the entitlement is denied to the claimant as the legal title has  to be deemed as unconscionable (Wilken & Ghaly, 2012). In Jennings v Rice [2002] EWCA Civ 159, the plaintiff used to look after the defendant and this continued till the death of the defendant. The plaintiff was never paid anything and was instead promised the house with the furniture. This led to the plaintiff being awarded £200,000 as the court held that giving a proportional judgement with regards to the expectations of the plaintiff had to be done and detriment had to be made. And the amount of £200,000 was deemed as the detriment calculation for the plaintiff (Ball, 2015).

Registration of Land and its Key Principles

The rules discussed above now have to be applied to the give case study. Firstly, it has to be clarified that George was never named as the owner of the house. He was the owner of the flat which was later on sold. Hence there was no express trust in this case and instead there was a presence of constructive trust, i.e., something which is to be construed from the conduct of the parties. In this case, the conduct was such that George sold his flat to go and live with Rose and Paul and gave the proceeds from the sale of flat to Paul, which was partly used by Paul for repaying the mortgage of the house and partly for constructing the house. In return, the implied promise was for George to live in the house and be provided with care, food and shelter. And this even continued till Rose was alive. Only upon the death of Rose did Paul ask George to leave the house. These contributions of Paul particularly towards the mortgage of the money would be deemed as an indirect contribution towards the house, based on Eves v Eves and this would allow Paul to make a claim on the house, particularly to the portion of contributed mortgage and the constructed portion of the house. The conduct of Rose and Paul was very clear to depict to any reasonable person that he would be staying in their house and in return, he paid them the sale proceeds.

Applying Stack v Dowden, the house was co-inhabited by the three even though there had been no declaration on the beneficial interest entitlement. The mortgage and the construction of house were carried on by money of George and so, the beneficial interest had to be distributed according to the contributions. Gissing v Gissing provides that in absence of declaration of the trust, the constructive trusts have to be applied, particularly owing to inducement. Here, George worked in his detriment and gave the entire money to Paul.

Also, applying the principle of proprietary estoppel, there was an absence of standard formalities in the proprietary interest of the house. And there was an unconscionable behaviour and denying entitlement to George would be unconscionable. Applying Jennings v Rice, even though George never paid anything, he gave his life earnings to Paul due to the implied condition of him staying with Paul and Rose owing to his ill health. Hence, damages have to be awarded to George to the proportion of detriment. And based on the calculation of detriment of this case, there is a need to stop Paul from evicting George from the house as neither it is rightful, not justified.

Case Study: Legal Rights of George Regarding the House Purchased by Paul and Rose

Conclusion

Hence, in this case, it becomes very clear that the conduct of the parties was such which denoted the presence of constructive trust and based on the application of the different case laws, it becomes clear that George cannot be evicted by Paul. And if the same is considered, there is a need to pay damages to George as a detriment was caused to him when he paid the proceeds of flat to Paul, and owing to the unconscionable behaviour, denying entitlement to George would be unconscionable. In short, George cannot be evicted from the house due to his contributions.

The key issue in this case is the changed position where it is deemed that the house was conveyed in name of Paul and Rose as being tenants in common and it was later on brought to the notice of the parties that Rose had named George as being the sole beneficiary to her property in the will.

Tenancy in common states that both the owners have the share in the property and this share is undivided, which means that the co-owners are entitled to occupy the entire property even when there share is very small (Watts, 2013). Also, there is no physical division of land and the possession is held in unity. The concept becomes relevant on the sale, or the death of the person or where the property is to be distributed. There is no operation of survivorship when it comes to tenants in common and each tenant can nominate to whom they will leave their share (Atkins, 2015).

Goodman v Gallant [1986] Fam 106 was a case in which Goodman held half the beneficial interests in the matrimonial house. And the legal title was held by the husband. After her husband leaving the home five years later, Goodman got into a relationship with Gallant and he moved in the house. After two years, the negotiations were entered into with husband for his share of the house to be sold to Goodman. The price was set and the declaration of trust provided that the property was held as joint tenants. Goodman gave a notice later on for severing the joint tenancy and stated that she held 75% beneficial interest due to the fact that she already held 50% shares and had contributed in the purchase of the later half. The court however, held that the entitlement was to continue at 50% of the beneficial ownership. This was because the declaration of trust, in absence of mistake or fraud had to be taken as a conclusive aspect with regards to the ownership rights of the parties and the contribution of the parties was to be deemed as irrelevant (E-Law Resources, 2017c).

In the given case study, if Rose and Paul are deemed as tenants in common. This would mean that upon the death of any of these two, they can state to whom their share of property would go. Applying Goodman v Gallant Rose could give the entitlement which she owed to George and not that of Paul and so, she could make her the sole beneficiary for her property. As the will of Rose provided that George had to be deemed as the sole beneficiary of her property, the express right over the property of George would disallow Peter from evicting George. As George would become an express beneficiary, instead of the same being required to be obtained from the conduct of the parties under constructive trust, Paul could not be evicted from the home.

Conclusion

On the basis of the application of the facts of the case study to the relevant rules, Paul cannot evict George even in this case as he had explicitly been made the beneficiary of the property by the will of Rose.

References

Atkins, S. (2015). Equity and Trusts (2nd ed.). Oxon: Routledge.

Ball, J. (2015). Jennings v Rice [2002]. Retrieved from: https://webstroke.co.uk/law/cases/jennings-v-rice-2002

Clarke, S., & Greer, S. (2016). Land Law Directions (5th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

E-Law Resources. (2017a). Co-ownership. Retrieved from: https://e-lawresources.co.uk/Land/Co-ownership.php

E-Law Resources. (2017b). Stack v Dowden [2007] 2 AC 432 House of Lords. Retrieved from: https://e-lawresources.co.uk/Land/Stack-v-Dowden.php

E-Law Resources. (2017c). Goodman v Gallant [1986] Fam 106 Court of Appeal. Retrieved from: https://e-lawresources.co.uk/Land/Goodman-v-Gallant.php

Ford, R.O. (2015). The Parables of Christ. Indiana: Xlibris Corporation.

Gravells, N. (2013). Landmark Cases in Land Law. Portland: Hart Publishing.

Hudson, A. (2013). Equity & Trusts (3rd ed.). London: Cavendish Publishing Limited.

Liew, Y.K. (2017). Rationalising Constructive Trusts. Portland: Hart Publishing.

Moffat, G., Bean, G., & Probert, R. (2009). Trusts Law: Text and Materials (5th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sexton, R., & Bogusz, B. (2015). Complete Land Law: Text, Cases, and Materials (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stroud, A. (2013). Making Sense of Land Law (4th ed.). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Watts, G. (2013). Todd & Watt's Cases and Materials on Equity and Trusts (9th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wilken, S., & Ghaly, K. (2012). The Law of Waiver, Variation and Estoppel (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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