The precursor of Pallant v Morgan

In Chattock v Muller ((1878) L.R. 8 Ch.D. 177) C and M agreed that M would buy land and that M would then convey part of the land to C. Just before approaching the owner to make an offer, M contacted C to inform him of his intention. He told C that he was free to make his own offer but C replied that he would not do so in light of the understanding between C and M. In fact, an approach was made to M by the owner of the land the next day. M acquired the land and informed C that he intended to keep it for himself. M argued that there could be no agency agreement because the precise extent of the land to be conveyed to C had not been identified (although there was substantial agreement on this).The court appears to have taken the line that this was an agency agreement and that in fact there was no uncertainty. There was an order to determine the land to be conveyed.

The court held that even if there were a problem as to certainty, equity could assist C.  Malins V.C. said that if need be he would be prepared to order M to convey the entire estate to C. Equity could prevent M from unconscionably relying on the lack of certainty so as to defeat his obligations under that agreement:

‘I think that the Court would be bound, if possible, to overcome all technical difficulties in order to defeat the unfair course of dealing of the defendant’. (per Malins V.C. at 181).

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2 Responses to “The precursor of Pallant v Morgan”

  1. Andre 3000 Says:

    do you think an arrangement of this kind could still be made orally considering the provisions of s2 LP(MP)A 1989? As in does s 2 preclude an oral agreement to buy land on behalf of another and then to sell it to him?

    • Michael Lower Says:

      It is an interesting question. The simplest answer is that the equity is a constructive trust and so falls within s.2(5). Another answer is that it may not be a ‘sale or other disposition’.

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