There is uncertainty surrounding the law in regards to the ownership of property and proprietary estoppel. This paper will deal with these issues by analysing two cases that involve these questions. It will first address Jack’s case and whether the two objects in question are chattels or fixtures; then, it will examine a Laurence’s case and whether he can rely on proprietary estoppel or not. By dealing with the two cases, this paper will clarify questions of what constitutes a chattel or fixture, and in what situations proprietary estoppel may apply.
A fixture is an object that is considered part of the land, whereas, a chattel is an object that is typically not fixed to the land. In the present case, Jack purchased a house from Val. Jack realized that some of the objects he considered part of the property was missing and wants to know who these objects belong to. In determining whether an object is a fixture or a chattel depends on according to Berkley v. Poulett , the degree of annexation of the object to the land and the purpose of the object’s annexation. The degree of annexation test “dictates that the greater the degree of annexation, the more likely the object is a fixture” , although there are some exceptions to this rule. An object that is resting on its own weight does not require any degree of annexation and may be considered a fixture depending on its purpose. The purpose of annexation, and more important part of the test, considers the purpose as to why the object is annexed to the land. If the object is annexed for the purpose of enjoying the object itself, it is considered a chattel; whereas, if the object is annexed for the purpose of enjoying the property as a whole, the object will be considered a fixture. In Botham v. TSB Bank plc , the court expanded on the degree and purpose of annexation test by including additional factors. The considered: whether and is part of the design of the building; the movability of the object; the lifespan of the object; the damage caused to the land when moving the object; and the type of person who attached the object to the land. By understanding the factors that surround the annexation test, it becomes clearer as to whether an object is considered a fixture or a chattel.
The bronze statues on plinths in the garden are fixtures; therefore, they are part of the property and belong to Jack. First, there is no degree of annexation, although, according to D’Eyncourt v. Gregory , where “objects have been positioned so as to improve the overall architectural design of the property, those objects may become fixtures, even where there is no degree of annexation” ; therefore, the emphasis shifts to the purpose of the annexation. Second, the purpose of annexation for the statues is to enhance the value of the garden, thus its purpose is to improve the design of the property. The fact that there are plinths in the garden suggests that the statues are intentionally installed in that area....