In 1995, Mrs Smith informed Mr Brown that she intended to leave him the farm in her will. She subsequently executed a will ("the 1995 will") in which she left the farm to Mr Brown. In early 1997, however, she made another will ("the 1997 will"), appointing her solicitor, Mr John Doe, executor and leaving all her property (including the farm) to two close friends, Mr and Mrs Edwards, in equal shares. She did not tell Mr Brown of her change of mind but, on the contrary, continued to reassure him that the farm would be his when she died. On the faith of these assurances, Mr Brown, in addition to running the farm full-time and paying all the outgoings, provided care for Mrs Smith (who was now in her seventies) by doing the shopping, providing cups of tea and meals and keeping her company, for which he received no remuneration.
In 1998, Mrs Smith died. Following probate of the 1997 will, Mr John Doe, in his capacity as executor, vested the freehold estate in the farm into the name of Mr and Mrs Edwards as joint beneficiaries. The farm was then sold by Mr and Mrs Edwards to a Mr Evans (a local farmer).
Mr Evans has now brought an action claiming possession of the farm against Mr Brown. Mr Brown has counterclaimed for a declaration that (1) he was entitled to the freehold of the farm by virtue of Mrs Smith's assurances that she would leave him the farm in her will and (2) such assurances created an estoppel equity which bound Mr Evens by virtue of s.70(l)(g) of the Land Registration Act 1925.
In the High Court, Wisdom J. held that Mr Evans was entitled to possession for two reasons:
Mr Brown now appeals to the House of Lords and Mr Evans cross appeals against the second part of the Court of Appeal decision.
Problem taken from Observer-ESU-Lovell White Durrant Mooting Competition 1998-99
This problem is available for download as a PDF file.