Hunt v Luck

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal

Vendor and Purchaser - Adverse Title - Constructive Notice - Notice by Tenancy - Conveyancing Act, 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c. 39), s. 3.

The occupation of land by a tenant affects a purchaser of the land with constructive notice of all that tenant's rights, but not with notice of his lessor's title or rights.

Actual knowledge by the purchaser that the rents of the land are paid by the tenants to some person whose receipt of them is inconsistent with the title of the vendor is constructive notice of that person's rights; but mere knowledge that the rents are paid to an estate agent affects the purchaser with no notice at all.

Decision of Farwell J., [1901] 1 Ch. 45, affirmed.

Barnhart v. Greenshields, (1853) 9 Moo. P. C. 18, followed.

Dictum of Jessel M.R. to the contrary in Mumford v. Stohwasser, (1874) L. R. 18 Eq. 556, 562, disapproved.

APPEAL by the plaintiff against the judgment of Farwell J.F1 dismissing the action as against some of the defendants.

The plaintiff, who was the real representative of her late husband, Dr. Hunt, and the tenant for life under his will, claimed to impeach some conveyances of twenty-seven freehold houses and land situate at Wimbledon, which purported to have been executed by her husband in favour of one Gilbert, an estate agent at Hastings, where Dr. Hunt resided.

The defendant Miss Luck was the real representative and the residuary legatee and devisee of Gilbert. The other defendants were his mortgagees of the property. The evidence shewed that the rents of the houses, twenty-five of which were let on weekly tenancies and the other two on tenancies from year to year, had been collected by one Woodrow, an estate agent at Wimbledon, and remitted by him direct to Dr. Hunt until July 10, 1897, after which date they were, by arrangement, remitted by Woodrow to Gilbert as agent for Dr. Hunt.

The rents were paid by Gilbert to Dr. Hunt till his death on June 10, 1898, and were afterwards paid to the plaintiff till the death of Gilbert on September 6, 1898.

After the death of Gilbert, the plaintiff discovered that by a voluntary conveyance dated March 31, 1896, part of the property, and by a conveyance dated October 10, 1896, expressed to be made in consideration of 12,000l., the receipt of which sum was thereby acknowledged by Dr. Hunt, the whole of the property, purported to be conveyed by him to Gilbert absolutely, and that in August, 1897, Gilbert had conveyed the property by way of mortgage to the defendant mortgagees. The title-deeds, which had been deposited by Gilbert with his bankers to secure an overdraft, were by his directions handed over to the mortgagees on completion.

The plaintiff alleged that the apparent signature of Dr. Hunt to the conveyances was a forgery, and, alternatively, that Dr. Hunt was at the date of the conveyances totally incapable of transacting business, and, alternatively, that Gilbert concealed the actual contents of the conveyances from Dr. Hunt, and represented them as being merely documents arranging the terms on which Gilbert was to collect the rents as agent, and that Gilbert fraudulently obtained possession of the title-deeds by representing that they were required for the purpose of the agency.

The plaintiff also alleged that the pretended purchase-money of 12,000l. had never been paid, that neither Gilbert nor the defendants ever took possession of the property, and that the mortgagees were guilty of negligence in omitting to make proper inquiries of the tenants, which inquiries would have elicited the fact that Dr. Hunt was the true owner and was in possession or receipt of the rents. There was evidence that in May, 1897, during the negotiations for the mortgages, the mortgagees employed an agent named Woodhams to value the property on their behalf, and that Woodhams on inquiry of the tenants was informed that the rents were paid by them to Woodrow. Woodhams did not pursue the inquiry further, or ascertain on whose behalf Woodrow was collecting the rents, nor did the mortgagees make any other inquiries on the point, the paper title being satisfactory.

The defendant Luck did not deliver a defence, and did not appear at the trial. The mortgagees denied the plaintiff's allegations, and also pleaded that they were purchasers for valuable consideration without notice of any of Gilbert's alleged frauds or of Dr. Hunt's alleged incapacity.

Farwell J. held that, even if the plaintiff's allegations of fraud by Gilbert were proved, the mortgagees had neither actual nor constructive notice of the fraud or of the title of Dr. Hunt. They were purchasers for value without notice, and their...

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  • Cases referred to in 1963
    • Nigeria
    • DSC Publications Online Nigerian Supreme Court Cases. 1963 Preliminary Sections
    • 11 November 2022
    ...v. Johnson (1775) Cowp. 341 (98 Eng. R. 1120). 55 Horsey Estate Ltd. v. Steiger (1899) 2 Q.B. 79, 92. 83 Hunt v. Luck (1901) 1 Ch. 45; (1902) 1 Ch.428 C.A. 102 In re W. (Infants) (1956) 1 Ch. 384. 241 lnneh v. AruegLon (1952) 14 WA CA 73 164 Jackson v. Cooke 1937 A.C. 205. 167 Kabba v. Youn......

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