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Johnson V. Agnew Ii Notes

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JOHNSON V. AGNEW FACTS My Lords, this appeal arises in a vendors' action for specific performance of a contract for the sale of land, the appellant being the purchaser and the vendors respondents. The factual situation is commonplace, indeed routine. An owner of land contracts to sell it to a purchaser; the purchaser fails to complete the contract; the vendor goes to the court and obtains an order that the contract be specifically performed; the purchaser still does not complete; the vendor goes back to the court and asks for the order for specific performance to be dissolved, for the contract to be terminated or "rescinded," and for an order for damages. The contract for sale was dated November 1, 1973. The property sold was called Sheepcote Grange, Woodburn Common. Bucks; it consisted of the grange itself and some grazing land. On the grange there was a first legal charge to a building society for £15,600 and two other charges. On the grazing land there was a first legal charge to a finance company for £6,000 and a second legal charge to a bank. The purchase price under the contract was £117,000 and so was ample to pay off the charges and to leave the vendors with money to buy another property. In fact on November 1, 1973, they contracted to buy one for £34,000, and raised the purchase money by loan from a bank. If the first contract had been completed according to its terms, no difficulty would have arisen: the bank loan would have been discharged from the purchase price. Purchasers don't complete the contract of sale: A deposit of 10 per cent. was to be paid but the purchaser only paid £3,000. Before December 6, 1973, the purchaser had accepted the vendors' title (this of course disclosed the existence of the mortgages) and a form of conveyance was agreed. However the purchaser did not complete on that date. On December 21, 1973, the vendors' solicitors served a notice, under condition 19, making time of the essence of the contract and fixing January 21, 1974, as the final date by which completion was to take place. The purchaser failed to complete on that date. On March 8, 1974, the vendors issued a writ claiming specific performance and damages in lieu of or in addition thereto and alternatively a declaration that the vendors were no longer bound to perform the contract and further relief. Mortgagees enforce their mortgage: Meanwhile action was taken by the vendors' mortgagees. The building society obtained an order for possession of the grange on August 22, 1974, they sold it on June 20, 1975, and completion took place on July 18, 1975. The finance company obtained an order for possession of the grazing land on March 7, 1975; they sold it on April 3, 1975, and completion took place on July 11, 1975. Thus by April 3, 1975,

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