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Midland Bank Trust Co Ltd v Green (No. 1)

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Midland Bank Trust Co Ltd v Green (No. 1) [1981] A.C. 513

UNREGISTERED OPTION – ESTATE CONTRACT – LAND CHARGES – UNREGISTERED CONVEYANCING

Facts

For the consideration of £1, W granted G the option to buy a farm, title to which was unregistered. This was an estate contract and so a legal charge, registrable under the Land Charges Act 1925 (LCA) although G did not do so. Several years later, when the property was worth £40,000, W conveyed it to his wife E for £500. A month after that G registered the option, subsequently giving notice of his intent to exercising it. G sought a declaration that the option was still binding and sued for specific performance of the contract. He failed at first instance on the basis that the sale to E had been a genuine sale by a vendor to a purchaser, defined by s.13(2) LCA as being “for money or money's worth”. G was successful on appeal and E’s estate themselves appealed to the House of Lords.

Issue

Whether, in order to be a valid sale of unregistered land for “money or money’s worth” within the meaning of s.13(2) LCA, a transaction must be in good faith and for consideration which was more than nominal.

Held

The House of Lords, allowing the appeal, found that there was no requirement in s.13(3) that the purchaser should be in good faith; the word “purchaser” in s.13(2), by definition, meant one who had provided valuable consideration, a legal term of art which did not connote adequacy. There was no clause in the Land Charges Act 1925 equivalent to s.205(1)(xxi) of the Land Registration Act 1925. To exclude a nominal sum of money from s.13(2), therefore, would be to rewrite the section entirely.

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