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Elitestone Ltd v Morris [1997] 1 WLR 687

Whether a building standing by its own weight is a fixture of a chattel

Facts

The claimant company was the freeholder of land which it intended to redevelop. It therefore issues possession proceedings against all of the occupiers of bungalows placed on the land. The defendant was the owner of one of the bungalows and claimed that he was a tenant and therefore entitled to protection under the Rent Act 1977. At first instance, it was held that the bungalow formed part of the land and therefore the provisions of the 1977 Act applied. The Court of Appeal overturned the first instance judgment on the basis that, because the bungalow was not affixed to the land, only resting by its own weight on concrete pillars, it was a chattel and not part of the land. Morris appealed to the House of Lords.

Issue

The issue here was whether a bungalow not affixed to the land, but simply resting on it by its own weight, would be considered a fixture or a chattel.

Held

It was held that in certain circumstances the ordinary definition of chattel or fixture would be insufficient to define the nature of a building resting on land. In this circumstance, the issue was both the degree of attachment and the purpose of that attachment. This reasserted the approach taken in Holland v Hodgson (1871 – 72) LR 7 CP 328. In this respect, the purpose of placing the bungalow on the land was for its occupation and therefore, the fact that it was not firmly affixed did not prevent it being part of the land. Furthermore, it was relevant that the removal would require the bungalow to be destroyed. It could not otherwise be removed. On this basis, the bungalow was part of the land and the appeal was allowed.


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