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Inwards & Ors v Baker [1965] 2 WLR 212 Court of Appeal

A father encouraged his son, Jack Baker, to build a bungalow on his land. The son built it at his own expense using mainly his own labour. The house was completed and the son moved in in 1931 and he remained there. In 1951 the father died and left all his property to his live in partner, Ms Inwards. In 1963 Miss Inwards brought proceedings seeking to remove Mr Baker from the property.

Held:

Mr Baker was entitled to remain in the property. His expenditure of money on the land at his father’s encouragement raised an equity which was satisfied by granting a licence for life.

Lord Denning MR:

“So in this case, even though there is no binding contract to grant any particular interest to the licensee, nevertheless the Court can look at the circumstances and see whether there is an equity arising out of the expenditure of money. All that is necessary is that the licensee should, at the request or with the encouragement of the landlord, have spent the money in the expectation of being allowed to stay there. If so, the Court will not allow that expectation to be defeated where it would be inequitable so to do. In this case it is quite plain that the father allowed an expectation to be created in the son's mind that this bungalow was to be his home. It was to be his home for his life or, at all events, his home as long as he wished it to remain his home. It seems to me, in the light of that equity, the father could not in 1932 have turned to his son and said: "You are to go. It is my land and my house". Nor could he at any time thereafter so long as the son wanted it as his home.”

Back to lecture outline on proprietary estoppel in land law