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Property Law - Case Study Example

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Intriguingly, the Grays seem to be suggesting the polar opposite of the law in this area. There is no evidence in the case law to support the view that intention has ever seriously taken precedence over the degree of physical annexation in the determination whether a chattel affixed to land remains a chattel or becomes a fixture…
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Property Law Case Study
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Download file to see previous pages It certainly is true that the legal owner has the sole right to dispose of any fixtures to another party. Nonetheless this is not the same thing as meaning that the 'purchaser' of kitchen cupboards obtained under a subsisting hire purchase agreement would also have the same rights, since whilst s/he might romantically think of the chattel as 'belonging to' him/her upon receipt of it, under English law, legal title does not pass until the final repayment is received by the finance company.
However, the chattel may not belong outright to the person in possession, particularly where the possessor has only a limited right to the land; for example the widow of a man who died intestate may be allowed to live in the property but not to dispose of contents left in a statutory trust for her children under 18.
What is the situation if an ex-tenant of a shop has to leave parquet flooring she had installed at her own cost Would the landlord instantly be able to claim that it was a fixture, and therefore s/he was entitled to keep it, in the same manner a mortgagee of land has a better right to fixtures than the owner or other creditors
The older cases in this area suggest that the courts know that in certain circumstances it would be grossly unfair for a landlord to benefit in this manner, not least because it would discourage tenants from improving and maintaining the property.1 For example, seventeenth century law recognised that trade and ornamental fixtures could be removed during or at the end of the tenancy.2 However, one must keep such decisions in context - the world was a very different place then, and there was not welfare state to lift one from penury in the event of bankruptcy.

Contrary to the Grays' viewpoint it is herein submitted that this has never been the conventional jurisprudential view. It was - and remains - an exception to the general rule. The burden of proof remains on the original person in possession to prove that the chattel was not a fixture.
Defining a Fixture
The determination of whether a chattel was a fixture was generally understood to turn on the 'intention' at the time the chattel was affixed to the land. The rationale for this reading of the case law is that the only purpose the tenant had at the time of affixing the chattel to the land was the intention to use and enjoy the chattel. This view makes good sense - particularly in the burgeoning sectors of commercial leasing or renting of realty, where often the fixture itself is owned by someone else (such as shop-fittings, satellite dishes or a fitted bedroom under a hire purchase agreement).

However, the earliest cases considered the degree or extent of physical annexation to be more significant. Blackburn J in Holland v Hodgson (1872) gives a sound definition of the 'objective test' of a fixture under English law at the time:

"Perhaps the true rule is, that articles not otherwise attached to the land than by their own weight are not to be considered as part of the land, unless the circumstances are said as to shew that they were intended to be part of the landon the contrary, an article which is fixed to the land even slightly is to be considered as part of the land, unless the circumstances are such as to shew that it was intended all along to continue a chattel."3

The Court gave examples of fixtures which would not be considered to be attached to the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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