Katrina Yates successfully acted for the Chief Land Registrar in Antoine v Barclays Bank UK Plc & Chief Land Registrar [2018] EWCA Civ 2846, both at trial and in the Court of Appeal.

The appeal concerned an alleged mistake on the Register of Title following an unusual property fraud, by which an individual named Mr Taylor had presented forged documents to the High Court and obtained default judgment vesting a property in him.   He was then entered as the registered proprietor of the property in accordance with the vesting order and he charged the property to the bank.  

When Mr Antoine, the administrator of the deceased true owner’s estate, subsequently found out about this, he applied to set aside the vesting order.   The High Court did so, but without prejudice to the bank’s rights, and Mr Antoine was entered as the registered proprietor.   Some time later Mr Antoine started a fresh claim, seeking to remove the bank’s registered charge, alleging that the registration of Mr Taylor and of the charge were mistakes on the Register of Title, which ought to be rectified by removing the charge.

A unanimous Court of Appeal accepted the Registrar’s contention that neither the registration of Mr Taylor as proprietor nor of the bank’s charge were mistakes.   Although the vesting order was irregular, it was valid on its face at the time of registration, and the Registrar was under a duty to register it.   In land registration terms, the vesting order was akin to a voidable transaction, because it had legal effect unless or until it was set aside.  The registration of Mr Taylor on the basis of a valid and effective court order could not be a mistake, and it followed that neither could the registration of the charge, so there could be no rectification of the Register.    The appeal was dismissed accordingly, the judgment of Joanna Smith QC below was affirmed, and permission to appeal to the Supreme Court was refused.

The judgment confirms the principles in NRAM v Evans [2018] 1 WLR 639 (CA) and provides welcome clarification as to the status and legal effect of a court order that is good on its face.

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