Caunce v Caunce [1969] 1 WLR 286, ChD

The operation of the doctrine of notice in relation to married couples.


A husband and wife both made contributions to the purchase price for a property intended to act as the matrimonial home. The property in question was unregistered land, and the husband received sole legal title. The husband subsequently sought to sell the land without consulting the wife. The wife sought to halt the sale as per the doctrine of notice, asserting that the purchaser had not fulfilled their duty in attempting to identify any beneficial interests in the property, and as she was in actual occupation, that she held an overriding interest as per the Law of Property Act 1925.


Whether the purchaser’s failure to inspect the property in search of a beneficial interest, which would have enabled them to discover the wife’s interest, meant they ought be bound by constructive notice.


The Court controversially found for the husband, finding that a wife could not seek to employ the doctrine of notice as the law viewed her husband as being able to consent on her behalf.

This position would subsequently go on to be overturned first in Williams & Glyn's Bank v Boland [1981] AC 487, and then more expressly in Kingsnorth Finance v Tizard [1986] 1 WLR 783, ChDso the law now requires that purchasers make inquiries as to any and all occupants of a property, even where such occupancy is not inconsistent with the title being sold.