Get off my land!
Matthew Fletcher, 5th February, 2018
When selling your commercial property, the last thing you want to do is put off potential buyers before you seal the deal.
If a Unilateral Notice is wrongly raised against your title, you could find yourself up a certain creek without a paddle, or at least that’s what you think at first. The truth is, there are means you can take to overcome these Unilateral Notices – you just need to know how to go about it. That’s what we’re here for.
If your land is registered, anyone who claims to have an interest in it can apply to the Land Registry to enter a Unilateral Notice against your title – this will almost certainly block a sale of your property. At this point, there are two possible remedies: apply to the Land Registry to cancel the notice, or make an application to the court for an injunction. Applying to cancel the notice is a very slow process, so if you need to sell your land quickly it’s not going to be your best option. A more effective route is to get an injunction.
At your first hearing, if you can demonstrate that the person who registered the notice has no valid interest in the land, then the court will order them to remove it. You may also get an order requiring them to pay your legal costs, together with damages to compensate you for any financial loss suffered as a result of the sale of your land being delayed by the entry of the notice. Although, if the notice was registered by a limited company without any assets, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever receive payment of the costs and damages.
However, in the High Court case of Anderson Antiques v Anderson Wharf where I acted for the successful Claimant – it was ruled that a director of a company that wrongfully registers a notice can, in certain circumstances, be made to pay costs and damages to the landowner out of their own pocket. In the Anderson case, the judge decided it was fair and just to make Anderson Wharf’s director personally liable.
The threat of an injunction combined with the prospect of personal liability on the part of the company director who wrongly registered the notice, will often be enough to ensure that the Unilateral Notice is removed before you lose your sale.
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