Upper Tribunal finds that the Land Tribunal has jurisdiction to decide on matters of beneficial ownership, even in matters of bankruptcy

The Bankrupt was the joint legal owner of a property in Ilford (the "Property"), and the Trustees applied to enter a bankruptcy restriction in standard Form J against the Property on 24 November 2016 (the "Application"). The Bankrupt and the other registered owner, Jagruti Patel (the "Respondent"), objected to the Application on the basis that the Bankrupt had no beneficial interest in the Property.

As there was no resolution between the Trustees and the Respondent, the Land Registrar referred the Respondent’s objection to the Land Tribunal for determination. The Trustees contended that it was a matter for the courts to determine.

The First-Tier found in favour of the Respondent, and therefore not having to consider the extent of any beneficial interest, the Tribunal directed the Chief Land Registrar to cancel the Application.

The Trustees appealed the decision on a number of grounds, but the appeal was only allowed on the question of jurisdiction.

Upon considering the appeal, Judge Fancourt (Chamber President) found that there is no conflict between the provisions of the Land Registration Act 2002 and the Insolvency Act 1986 because there is nothing to prevent any matter that properly falls within the jurisdiction of the First-Tier Tribunal from being decided there. 

It was necessary for the Tribunal to decide whether the Bankrupt had a beneficial interest in the Property in order to determine whether a restriction on the title documents was necessary/desirable or whether the objection to the Application should succeed and it was entitled to do so.  In any event, the question was whether the Bankrupt had a beneficial interest in the Property before the bankruptcy order was made. Fancourt J reiterated that the Tribunal does have the discretion to direct that the matter be decided by a court, and that this is likely to be applicable where a beneficial interest is found and there is a dispute regarding its extent.

(1) Graham Wolloff (2) Adrian Dante (as Joint Trustees in Bankruptcy of Alexander James Dhillon) v Jagruti Kantilal Patel (2019) [2019] UKUT 333 (LC)

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