Land Law III – Fixtures and Chattels

Hobson v Gorringe (1897) gives us a practical example of how a chattel can become a fixture. The freeholder of a sawmill or an owner in fee simple (a fee simple means absolute ownership of land or a landowner whose interests in the land cannot be disputed) went on to purchase a gas engine under a hire purchase agreement and as per the agreement the gas engine was to remain a chattel until the final instalment was paid, and affixed the gas engine to the land with bolts.

The hirer then mortgaged the land to a third party and defaulted on the hire purchase agreement. A dispute arose between the owner (a person who has sold goods under a hire purchase agreement and the mortgagee).

If the gas engine was a still a chattel, as per the hire purchase agreement, then the owner was entitled to take it back. However, if the gas engine had become a fixture, then it had become a part of the land and the owner cannot take it back without the consent of the mortgagee.

The court of appeal, taking into account the decision in Holland v Hodgson (1872), decided that there had been sufficient annexation to make the gas engine a permanent feature of the land and hence the gas engine had ceased to remain a chattel and had become a fixture.

Copyright © 2019 by Dyarne Jessica Ward

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