Charging order subject to prior unwritten equitable interest?

In Wa Lee Finance Co Ltd v Yau Tak Wah ([2002] HKEC 1102, CFI) W had charging orders over Y’s property and had registered them at the Land Registry. The applicants sought to be joined as defendants and to set aside the charging orders. They claimed that they had made substantial contributions to the cost of building the house on Y’s land. They had done so, they alleged, pursuant to a joint development agreement with Y under which they were to be assigned the ground and first floors of the house. The agreement had not been registered but they claimed to have the benefit of an unwritten equitable interest (by virtue of their financial contributions) independently of their rights under the unregistered agreement. The CFI decided that their claim was arguable. They were added as parties to the proceedings but the charging orders were not overturned. This question would have to await the trial of the action proper.

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