X had left his wife, D, living in a matrimonial home after he left her and then mortgaged it out to P, who made no investigation of any possible interests over the property, nor was aware that X had left D. HL found D had no interest in the property (and hence P’s failure to investigate was irrelevant) since the rights of a deserted wife were personal, not proprietary ones (i.e. they run with the person, not with the land). The “actual occupation” clause therefore did not apply.
Lord Hodson: The LRA is concerned with rights that are capable of surviving through different ownerships of land, which the right of a deserted wife clearly is not. On a separate point, he casts doubt on whether a deserted wife or her husband is considered “in actual occupation, but doesn’t answer this”.
Lord Wilberforce: The example of deserted wives shows how the present rules can cause injustice. Makes point that deserted wives’ rights are personal and not proprietary. LRA 1925 is concerned only with latter.