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Taylor v Hamer [2002] EWCA Civ 1130

Whether fixtures removed prior to contract should be restored to a property

Facts

The appellant bought a property from the respondent. When inspecting the property, the appellant noticed that part of the land was paved with ancient paving slabs. Shortly before agreeing the contract, the appellant was made aware of slabs stacked at the side of the property and enquired as to whether these were to remain with the property. The respondent stated that they were not part of it. The slabs were, in fact, those that had been previously laid on the property which the respondent had removed. The respondent had also turfed the area where the slabs had been in order to hide their removal. On completing the purchase, the appellant realised that the slabs had been removed and sued for their return. At first instance, the trial judge held that there was no breach of contract because the appellant was aware that the slabs had been removed before exchanging contracts. Damages were awarded in respect of the respondent’s deceit, but only in the extent of the cost of replacing the paving slabs. The appellant appealed, seeking an order for the return of the slabs and that they should be relayed.

Issue

The issue in this circumstance was whether the removal of the slabs was a breach of contract on the basis that they were a fixture and ought to have remained with the property.

Held

It was held that the paving stones should be returned and relayed. The nature of the agreement was such that a reasonable person would consider that the paving slabs formed part of the contract, on the basis that the agreement should be found to include them. The paving slabs were a fixture and therefore the parties were aware that they should pass with the property. The fact that the respondent attempted to conceal the removal of the paving slabs and had given dishonest answers to pre-contract questions on the matter prevented him from relying on the principle of caveat emptor.


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