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Stockholm Finance Ltd v Garden Holdings Inc [1995] NPC 162

Whether owning a property that is furnished but not inhabited can still be actual occupation.

Facts:

Princess Madawi, a Saudi princess, owned Garden Holdings, which owned a property in London. When Garden Holdings defaulted on the mortgage repayments, the mortgagee claimed possession. The Princess and her mother claimed that the mortgage had been obtained without their consent. The Princess also claimed that she occupied the premises.  The property was furnished, contained clothing, and there were caretaking arrangements in place. However, she had never lived in the property for any length of time and used it only when visiting London.

Issues:

It was argued that the Princess had an equitable interest in the property and as she was in actual occupation she also had an overriding interest. Under s.70(1)(g) Land Registration Act 1925 registered land was held subject to overriding interests, such as that of a person in actual occupation. If the Princess had an overriding interest as an actual occupier, her interest would bind the mortgage company and they would be unable to claim possession of the property.

Held:

The Princess’s continued absence from the house (for over a year) could not constitute occupation. Robert Walker LJ said at (para 18):

there must come a point at which a person's absence from his house is so prolonged that the notion of his continuing to be in actual occupation of it becomes insupportable.

Therefore, neither the Princess not her mother had an overriding interest and the mortgage company were entitled to possession.


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