Ramsden v Dyson

Where; (i) A allows B to build on A’s land, (ii) B does so because of a mistaken belief that B has an interest in the land;  and (iii) A knows of B’s mistaken belief then A has a duty to correct the mistaken belief.

In Ramsden v Dyson ((1866) L.R. 1 H.L. 129, HL) R granted T a yearly tenancy. T then spent a lot of money to erect buildings on the land. R then gave notice to quit. T sought equitable relief on the basis that he relied on R’s agent’s assurances that he would be entitled to possession for as long as he paid his rent and that he could call on R for the grant of a formal 60 year tenancy (with a right to renewal) after that. The majority of the House of Lords refused relief. To paraphrase Lord Cranworth (at 141) where; (i) A allows B to build on A’s land, (ii) B does so because of a mistaken belief that B has an interest in the land;  and (iii) A knows of B’s mistaken belief then A has a duty to correct the mistaken belief. But T knew what his rights were and R had not encouraged or known of any other belief.

Lord Kingsdown dissented. He would have given some relief (perhaps either an interest in the land or compensation for the expenditure). This is a fascinating judgment arising from an effort by R’s agent (R owned much of Huddersfield) to create a localised system of Land law / conveyancing.

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