LAW1122 Land Law

LAW1122 Land Law Formative Essay




Land refers to ‘buildings or parts of building and other corporeal heredatements, incorporeal hereditaments, privileges, or benefits in or over land’[1]. Land constitutes a critical component of the society.  Land differs significantly from other types of properties in that it is indestructible and permanent.  Arising from these unique features, it is possible for land to be characterised by different relationships, which is not possible in other types of properties. Land owners possess significant land ownership rights, which can be shared with different people.  Therefore, it is possible for more than one party to simultaneously possess right over land.  This situation mainly occurs if a husband and wife co-own their matrimonial home.  Additionally, creation of land ownership rights can also arise if one of the parties cedes or gives another party the right possess land for a particular duration of time, such as in situations involving creation of lease[2].   

The land law is aimed at ensuring that matters associated with land such as creation of rights and interests over land and transfer of such rights are effectively undertaken[3].  To ensure that matters associated with land are effectively administered, different concepts have been formulated. Some of the notable concept relate to creation of estates, interests, and legal or equitable interests.  This paper entails an evaluation of a scenario involving land ownership by Gloria and Ivor by identifying the existence of the different concepts of land that include estates and interests and whether they are legal or equitable. The paper further explains the origins of and current relevance of the distinctions.  The analysis is undertaken by paying into consideration the applicable statutory or judicial authority.

Analysis of the scenario

Identification of interests and estates, and determination of their legal or equitable nature

The scenario presents a case involving ownership of land and subsequent transfer of its right. According to the scenario, Gloria and Ivor, a couple, co-owned a property, 56 Cumberland Way. In the co-ownership, each of the parties contributed 50% of the property’s purchase price. The property was transferred and registered into the proprietorship register at HM Land Registry under Gloria’s name.  The scenario is characterised by presence of estates and interests.  Interests in land refer to the rights and duties associated with the different parties associated with the land. Conversely, estates entail major interest in land[4].

The co-ownership of the land between Gloria and Ivy has resulted in creation of significant interest in land by the two parties’ in spite of the fact that the property is registered under Gloria. Despite the fact that the property is registered under Gloria’s name, Ivor possess substantial legal interests and equitable or beneficial interests over the land. In essence, Gloria holds the property in trust of Ivor. Therefore, Gloria cannot exempt Ivor from matters associated with the land. This aspect is illustrated by the case of Bull v. Bull [1955] 1QB 234 (CA)[5] in which a mother and her son contributed towards the purchase of a house in which they lived.  The house was registered under the son’s name hence making him the legal trustee.  However, the son decided to evict her mother after marrying because his wife could not get along with her mother.

In determining over their rights, the Court of Appeal ruled that the mother possessed significant equitable interest over the house and hence her son could not evict her from the house. The mother’s equitable interest arose from the fact that her son was acting as the property’s trustee.  This indicates that possession of equitable interests provides all the property co-owners adequate protection. Thus, no party can transfer the interest of another co-owner without his or her consent[6].  The dominance of equitable interest under situations of co-ownership is further illustrated in the case of William & Glyn’s Bank Limited v Boland [1981] AC 487[7].

            The existence of legal interests in the scenario is further depicted by the joint decision by Ivor and Gloria to provide Henrietta right of pathway between their two houses located in the property for a period of 5 years. On the basis of the discussion, Henrietta possesses interest of land. Henrietta’s legal interests are founded on the section 1 of the Land Property Act s (1925), which proposes that providing a particular party the right or privilege over land such as right of way for a specified duration leads to creation of legal interests.

Gloria’s and Ivor’s decision to convert a portion of the house into flats by sourcing credit finance from Tyne & Wear Building Society in which the property’s deed was used to create the mortgage further underlines  existence of equitable interest.  Section 2 of the Law of Property Act 1989 proposes that ‘if a borrower agrees to grant a legal mortgage to the lender, an equitable mortgage is created’[8]. The contract between the lender and the borrower must be in writing. Moreover, equitable mortgage is created if the borrower accepts to deposit the property’s deed to the lender as security for the loan advanced. As a result of the equitable interest created, Tyne & Wear Building Society has a right over the land, which means that the firm can sell the property to recover the loan advanced[9]. The decision to rent one of the flats established to Laila for 6 months further led to creation of legal interests. Laila has the legal right to use the rented flat within the period of the lease.  The decision to rent one of the flats to Leila led for 6 months led to creation of a lease. However, the legal right will cease to exist after completion of duration of the lease.  

The origins of and the current relevance of the distinctions

Distinctions between legal and equitable rights in relation to matters land is founded on Common Law.  Developments in Common Law led to formulation of solutions that effectively provided solutions on issues related to equitable and legal rights. However, in Common Law required the claimants to provide proof on the fact that some formalities were followed and the existence of a specific action that gave rise to such legal or equitable interests.  The Court of Chancery in the UK is one of the notable judicial institutions that contributed to provision of the requisite distinctions. Thus, developments in common law has played a fundamental role in promoting equity in administering on matters related to land by eliminating the harshness associated with common law.   In summary, development distinctions between legal and equitable interests over land have led to promotion of equity in matters involving land.   The distinctions made  by enactment of the Judicature Act of 1975 has further led to elimination of conflicts between courts in making ruling on issues related to land[10]. Therefore, in making their rulings on land issues, courts must determine the existence of equitable or legal rights. Moreover, the courts must ensure that the rights are as a result of a process that is recognized by law.






Andrews Neil, Contract law (London: Cambridge University Press 2015).

Bray, Judith, Unlocking land law (New York: Routledge 2016)

Bull v Bull [1955] 1QB 234 (CA) (Swarb.co.UK, 14 Nov. 2016).


Clarke Alison and Kohler Paul, Property law; commentary and materials (London:

            Cambridge University Press 2009).

Cooke Elizabeth, Land law (Oxford: OUP Oxford 2011).

Davys Mark, Land law (London: Palgrave 2015).

Dixon Martin, Modern land law (New York: Routledge).

McFarlane Ben, Hopkins Nicholas and Nield Sarah, Land law; text, cases and materials

            (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015).

Stroud, April, Making sense of land law (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).

Thompson Mark, Modern law (Oxford, UK: OUP Oxford). 




[1] Dixon Martin, Modern land law (New York: Routledge) 18.

[2]  Thompson Mark, Modern law (Oxford, UK: OUP Oxford) 1.

[3] Cooke Elizabeth, Land law (Oxford: OUP Oxford 2012) 115.

[4] Davys Mark, Land law (London: Palgrave 2015).

[5] [1955] Bull v Bull, 1QB 234 (CA)

[6] McFarlane Ben, Hopkins Nicholas and Nield Sarah, Land law; text, cases and materials (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015) 641.

[7] [1981] William & Glyn’s Bank Limited v Boland, AC 487 (HL)

[8] Stroud, April, Making sense of land law (New York: Palgrave Macmillan) 557.

[9] Bray Judith, Unlocking land law (New York: Routledge 2016) 366.

[10] Wilkie Margret, Malcom, Rosalind and Luxton, Peter, Equity and trusts 2014 and 2015

    (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2015) 6.


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