De La Mare v Chief Land Registrar (2003)
The defendant's appeal from a master's order releasing the claimant from certain sanctions was dismissed as the master had reviewed the factors in CPR 3.9 and reached a decision that he was entitled to reach.
Appeal by the defendant ('the registrar') from a master's order of 27 February 2003 releasing the claimant ('C') from the sanction of striking out its claim notwithstanding C's failure to comply with an unless order. In the action, C sought an indemnity from the registrar under the Land Registration Act 1925 contending that the registrar had registered a disposition of a property effected by a forged transfer. C had taken a transfer himself of the property under an assumed name because of various matrimonial difficulties. The Land Registry asked for further information eventually culminating in an unless order for specific information, time for compliance with which was extended by the master. The registrar contended, inter alia, that the master: (i) failed to take adequate account of the background to the matter; (ii) failed to consider that C's application was not promptly made; (iii) failed to consider the micro-history of the unless orders; (iv) overlooked that C was legally assisted; and (v) failed to consider that a witness statement served by C did not comply with the precise terms of the master's order.
(1) This appeal was to be a review of the master's decision rather than a rehearing (Audergon v La Baguette Ltd (2002) EWCA Civ 10 considered). (2) It was not possible to say in the abstract what weight should be given to the various factors in CPR 3.9. The master had been aware of and indeed involved in most of the procedural history to the case. Whether or not an application was promptly made was a matter of judgment and the master was entitled to reach the conclusion he did. (3) The master had conducted a systematic review of the factors in CPR 3.9 and reached a decision that accorded with the overriding objectives of the CPR, which he was entitled to do.