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Horrocks v Forray [1976] 1 WLR 230

Whether occupation gives rise to a contractual licence

Facts

The claimants in this judgment were the executors of an estate and the defendant had been the owner of the estate’s mistress for seventeen years. The defendant was also the mother of a child of the estate’s owner. During this period, the father bought a house for the defendant to live in with his daughter and, whilst he considered at one point transferring ownership of the house to the defendant, it remained in his sole name until his death. The executors then sought and were granted possession of the house. The defendant appealed on the basis that she had been granted a contractual licence to live in the house for her lifetime or at least until her daughter had completed her education.

Issue

The issue in this circumstance was whether occupation of a property and the intention of the property owner to allow a person to live in it infers a contractual licence in favour of the occupier.

Held

It was held that there was no evidence to show that a contract had been formed in these circumstances. The fact that the deceased had sought to provide security for his mistress and daughter until his death was not sufficient to demonstrate a contractually binding promise on his part. Furthermore, even if the deceased intention could be found to be sufficient, which it could not, the agreement lacked any kind of consideration and it was therefore impossible for the licence to be contractual in nature. The defendant’s appeal was dismissed and the order for possession upheld.


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