This is an extract of our Legal Estates And Legal Interests In Land document, which we sell as part of our Property Law Notes collection written by the top tier of University College London students.
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Legal Estates and Legal Interests in Land
For example: B, a law lecturer promises A Ltd, her publisher, that all her students will buy a copy of the textbook written by B. Does A Ltd then have a right that all
B's students will buy the book?
Answer: No as students weren't party to the agreement. Right= a personal right not a property right therefore not enforceable against students.
Property rights prima facie bind the whole world and strangers from its creation and is respected by the state+ if owner becomes insolvent, person who right is transferred to is protected from creditors.
Property right= stronger than a personal right.
Distinction Between Personal and Property Rights:
Two types of rights in land;
1. Personal Rights - rights in personam: rights which only affect the parties that originally created the right.
2. Proprietary Rights - rights in rem: rights capable of affecting third parties,
bind the world.
Numerus Clauses: Limited number of property rights that the law will recognize, can't just turn personal rights into property rights, up to the law to decide which category your right falls into.
Logic of numerus clauses principle- If can create random property right whenever we want= would become difficult for a third party who later acquires it to know what duties they bear = uncertainty.
Hill v.Tupper (1863):
- proprietors owned a canal, made a promise to H for exclusive right to put pleasure boats on the canal - T started doing this as well, H objected that this interfered with his property right - issue was whether this was a valid property right - held that it was not
- one cannot create property rights unconnected with the land - it was only a personal right against the company, could not bind the world. Mr.Hill = personal right, permission/license to put his boat on the canal= not a property right therefore couldn't bind third parties so if he wanted remedies would have to seek it from canal company.
A's promise to give
B an exclusive right
X: also puts boats on canal to put boats on canal
Can B assert a right against X?
Does the contract between A and B give B a property right in A's land? No!
Pollock CB at 127-8:
"It is not competent to create rights unconnected with the use and enjoyment of land, and annex them to it so as to constitute a property in the grantee [B]. This grant merely operates as a licence or covenant on the part of the grantors [A], and is binding on them as between themselves and [B], but gives [B] no right of action in his own name for any infringement of the supposed exclusive right."
"A new species of incorporeal hereditament [ie a legal property right]
cannot be created at the will and pleasure of the owner of property, but he must be content to accept the estate and the right to dispose of it subject to the law as settled by decisions or controlled by acts of parliament."
Keppell v Bailey (1834):
A's promise to B
and future of A's ironworks will acquire from B's quarry
A sells ironworks to C
that owners limestone only
Can B assert a right against C?
Does the contract between A and B give B a property right in
A's land? No! It was not open to A to grant B a new legal property right which would bind C.
Lord Brougham LC at 535:
"There are certain known incidents to property and its enjoyment; among others, certain burdens wherewith it may be affected, or rights which may be created and may be enjoyed over it by parties other than the owner; all which incidents are recognised by the law…All these kinds of property, however, all these holdings, are well known to the law and familiarly dealt with by its principles. But it must not therefore be supposed that incidents of a novel kind can be devised and attached to property at the fancy and caprice of any owner. It is clearly inconvenient both to the science of the law and to the public weal that such a latitude should be given … great detriment would arise and much confusion of rights if parties were allowed to invent new modes of holding and enjoying real property, and to impress upon their lands and tenements a peculiar character, which should follow them into all hands,
There is a need to keep land freely marketable and alienable= why one can't personally determine property rights, up to the courts to decide.
Limits on the content of legal property rights
Law of Property Act 1925, s 1:
S. 1 recognises only two categories of legal property rights in land: legal estates in land and legal interests in land.
Additionally, it stipulates that any other type of property right must take effect in equity.
Historically= Could create a legal life estateproperty ownership= limited to a lifetime but this impeded marketability of land as ownership= not indefinite, only span of someone's lifetime. (Now not on list of legal property right but under equity.)
S.1(1) - Legal Estates:
(1) The only estates in land which are capable of subsisting or being conveyed or created at law are -
(a) An estate in fee simple absolute in possession;
(b) A term of years absolute.
Legal estates in land
Ownership without limit of time Lease
Ownership for a limited period
Why?= to facilitate the buying and selling of land.
''freehold' = "fee simple absolute in possession". Right to possess the land.
s. 1(2) - Legal Interests
(2) The only interests or charges in or over land which are capable of subsisting or of being conveyed or created at law are -
(a) An easement, right or privilege in or over land for an interest equivalent to an estate in fee simple absolute in possession or a term of years absolute;
(b) A rentcharge in possession issuing out of or charged on land being either perpetual or for a term of years absolute;
(c) A charge by way of legal mortgage;
(d) Any other similar charge on land which is not created by an instrument;
(e) Rights of entry exercisable over or in respect of a legal term of years absolute, or annexed, for any purpose, to a legal rentcharge.
Legal interests in land
B has a right to use A's land in a particular way which benefits B's land. Allows us to make better use of our land+ binds 3rd parties therefore security+ public utility.
Makes it easier to use the land collectively.
B has a security right over A's land i.e. National provincial bank vs Ainsworth.- Basically how when people = in debt they take their homes.
Does not involve ownership but can bind 3 rd parties and strangers.
s. 1(3) - Equitable Interests
(3) All other estates, interests, and charges in or over land take effect as equitable interests.
National Provincial Bank v Ainsworth  3 WLR 1 House of Lords
Mr Ainsworth was a secondhand car dealer and sole registered proprietor of the matrimonial home. He left the matrimonial home and moved in with his mother. His wife obtained a judicial separation. As part of the separation agreement, his wife was to live in the house rent free and he would pay reduced maintenance to take account of this. He later transferred the house to his company, Hastings Car Mart, and charged it to secure the debts of the company. He defaulted on the repayments and
National Provincial bank sought to possession of the property. Mrs Ainsworth sought to defeat the claim based on an overriding interest of her right to reside in the property coupled with her actual occupation.
Held: Mrs Ainsworth did not have a proprietary interest in the land which was capable of amounting to an overriding interest. Her right to remain in the house was a mere personal right as against her husband. It did not confer on her any equitable estate or interest in the house.
Estates and Ownership
Harris (in TCM): (i) the concept of ownership is crucial to defining the content of a freehold and of a lease; and (ii) ownership involves open-ended rights.
Street V. Mountford (1985):
- S gave M a right to occupy two
rooms in a house with exclusive possession - S had M sign a form saying it was not a lease - issue was whether it was a licence or a lease - held that it was a lease - can only have a lease if there is exclusive possession for land for a term.
Lord Templeman in Street v Mountford  AC 809 at 816: if B has a lease,
then B is "able to exercise the rights of an owner of land which is in the real sense his land, albeit temporarily and subject to certain restrictions."
Violation of sanctity/ freedom of contract? Nahh but can't just get around law by calling it something different from what it is. Concentration on substance not label.
And the idea of exclusive possession seems to be the key feature or hallmark of ownership.
Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd 
A large tower was constructed in the Docklands area of East London by Canary
Wharf Ltd. Its location was less then 10km to the primary television transmitter of the BBC. The tower interfered with the television reception of a group of residents of the Isle of Dogs. The claim in the case argued private nuisance for the period during which interference was felt. 690 claims were made against
Canary Wharf Ltd on those grounds. Further, 513 claims were started against
London Docklands Development Corporation for damages suffered from excessive dust emanating from the construction site. Some of the claimants were either owners or tenants, but others did not have any property interests.
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