Q&As

A and B are co-owners of freehold property. They have exchanged a contract to sell it to C and the completion date has passed. A wants to serve a notice to complete on C, but B does not wish to do so. Can A do so unilaterally?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 29/08/2019

The following Property Disputes Q&A Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A and B are co-owners of freehold property. They have exchanged a contract to sell it to C and the completion date has passed. A wants to serve a notice to complete on C, but B does not wish to do so. Can A do so unilaterally?

Since the advent of the Law of Property Act 1925 it has been possible to own real property legally in joint names only as joint tenants. The legal owners hold the beneficial interest on trust, ordinarily for themselves, either as equitable joint tenants (in which case they each own the whole and on the death of one their interest is extinguished with the other owning the whole under the doctrine of survivorship) or as equitable tenants in common, meaning that they own defined shares.

The contract to sell the property to C will almost certainly involve a transfer of the legal as well as the beneficial interest. Where trustees are appointed it is axiomatic that they must act jointly—one trustee cannot act unilaterally without

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