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Rectification of title – what is ‘exceptional’?

The HC has considered whether or not to correct a mistake on a registered title. Under Sch 4 LRA 2002 the court can order rectification but no order may be made without the proprietor’s consent in relation to land in their possession unless: 
 
a) they have by fraud or lack of proper care caused or substantially contributed to the mistake, or
 
b) it would for any other reason be unjust for the alteration not to be made.
 
The court must make the order unless there are exceptional circumstances which justify its not doing so. What amounts to exceptional circumstances depends on the facts of the case, but it must be something out of the ordinary. The facts of the case are complex and involve a property in London that was owned by the local authority which was fraudulently purchased under the right to buy scheme by the claimant’s husband and which was subsequently mortgaged. The matter was further complicated by the extent to which the conflicting accounts of the facts given by the claimant could be believed. 
 
The issue to be decided was whether the claimant was entitled to have the property vested in her and to have the register rectified to remove the charge. The HC found that the circumstances were exceptional and declined the application for rectification on the basis that rectification would have left the claimant with an unencumbered property for which she had paid no money and, indeed, would not have been able to afford. Even if someone has been the victim of fraud, the law will not permit a remedy which would in all respects give them a windfall. See Dhillon v Barclays Bank [2019] EWHC 475 (Ch) and reported on www.bailii.org.
 

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