Fixtures? What was intended?

In Hamp v Bygrave ([1983] 1 EGLR 174) B sold a house to H. Before completion, B removed a number of items of heavy garden furniture (such as stone urns, a stone statue and a lead trough). All were very heavy and were secured by their own weight alone (they were free-standing). H argued that the items were fixtures and that B had had no right to remove them. The judge considered the purpose and degree of annexation tests. Then he looked at the intention of the sellers. He thought that three facts pointed to the conclusion that the sellers had regarded the items as fixtures. First, the items were all mentioned in the agent’s particulars (the marketing material); second, during the negotiations the seller had offered to exclude them and reduce the price (the suggestion was not followed up but showed that the seller thought they were part of the property); and third B had authorised his solicitors to state that the ‘garden furniture’ was included in the sale and the items were still on the land at that time. B was ordered to return the items he still owned and to pay damages in respect of the items that he had removed. The court held that even if the items had not been fixtures, B was estopped from denying that they were part of the property. The statement in the agent’s particulars that they were part of the sale had been relied on by H.


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