Bryant Homes Northern Ltd v David Thompson (2002)
Where a caution against dealings was registered in accordance with the proviso to s.54(1) Land Registration Act 1925, it was inappropriate to enquire whether the Land Registrar had given a valid or proper consent to the registration. The fact of registration was sufficient proof of his consent.
Appeal by a defendant ('T') from a decision of HH Judge Langan QC by which he held, on the trial of a preliminary issue in an action by the respondent ('B') for compensation for damages allegedly caused by the lodging by T of a caution without reasonable cause, that the consent of the Land Registrar to the registration of that caution had not been properly given. T was entitled to the benefit of an easement of drainage over B's land. His right was protected by a notice registered against B's title at HM Land Registry ('the Registry'). In July 2000 T commenced proceedings against B in which he alleged that it had acted or was proposing to act in breach of his rights in the course of its development of its land. He applied to the Registry to lodge a caution against dealings against B's title. Such registration required the consent of the Land Registrar ('the Registrar') under s.54(1) Land Registration Act 1925. T's application was allowed. In September 2000 B commenced proceedings for the removal of the caution, to which T consented. B then began this action against T for damages for losses allegedly sustained as the result of what it alleged was the lodging of the caution without reasonable cause. By his defence T pleaded, inter alia, that such registration had been effected with the consent of the Registrar. B applied for the determination of a preliminary issue as to whether the Registrar's consent had been properly given, and in particular whether the Registrar had had the proviso to s.54(1) in mind when professing to give his consent. The judge held that the Registrar had not, and that the "consent" on which T sought to rely was consequently no consent at all.
(1) It was undesirable to bring the Registrar's private thought processes into the public domain. Given that on an objective assessment the Registrar had given his consent, it was inappropriate for the court to enquire further. (2) In any event, the fact of consent did not determine the underlying merits of the lodging of the caution. The question of whether the caution had been lodged without reasonable cause remained at large.
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25 Jul 2002
Court of Appeal
Auld LJ, Robert Walker LJ, Arden LJ
 NPC 103;  EWCA Civ 1080
John McGhee QC