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Unilateral notices

This page contains summaries of two cases dealing with the use of unilateral notices during the course of litigation.

Beneficial ownership in property

This was an application by the 5th defendant, in a set of on-going proceedings, to vacate a unilateral notice that had been registered against a property which according to the Land Registry was owned by the 5th defendant. The substantive claim was actually against the 4th defendant for approximately £1million. Although the 5th defendant was the registered proprietor the claimant asserted that the property beneficially belonged to the 4th defendant and that the 4th defendant was trying to avoid liability under any judgments that might be made. The question for the court was whether a claim that the property belongs to the 4th defendant could be described as a “pending land action” permitting the unilateral notice to have been entered even though the substantive claim was for a sum of money.

Held: Yes. A “pending land action” means “any action or proceeding pending in court relating to land or any interest in or charge on land”. (Peter Smith J at para 4). The judge at paras 6-8:
    ”The purpose of a pending land action is to put on notice to a prospective purchaser that there is a dispute that might affect the title to the land because if there was no such registration a purchaser would not know that there was actually a dispute. In the present case one asks the question: what is being disputed in this action? What is being disputed is the claim of D5 to be the legal and beneficial owner of the property. The claimant asserts that D4 is the true beneficial owner of the property. The property clearly has value. … The claimant says because the property is being concealed from him by the use of nominees or transfers for less than full valuable consideration because D4 does not wish to have the property available as one of her assets in the normal course or way. It seems to me, therefore, that the claimant has a legitimate interest in asserting in effect on behalf of D4 something which one would expect D4 normally to assert, that is to say "I own this very valuable property, not D5". I do not see how that can be said not to be a claim relating to land or any interest in land. Of course in most cases the claimant will be seeking to assert a direct interest but it does not foll ... THIS IS AN EXTRACT OF THE FULL TEXT. TO GET THE FULL TEXT, SEE BELOW

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