20161870 – Tenant at will of land

9 August 2016


An important decision was given in the Equity Court yesterday (sic), by Mr. Justice Molesworth, in Robertson v. Keith, affecting the value of certificates of title under the Transfer of Land Statute, which have been generally supposed to be unimpeachable, except by claims under adverse possession for 15 years. In April, 1865, one James Western purchased from the Crown two allotments at Steiglitz, and in the following May sold portion of one allotment to Robertson, but no conveyance was executed. In November, 1868, Keith sued Western for £64 10s. 9d., the amount of bills of exchange given by Western to him, and to secure which Keith held the title deeds of the allotments. Execution was issued against Western, and at a sale by the sheriff, Keith bought the land. At that sale Robertson made known that he was in possession of part of one allotment, and gave distinct notice of his claim. The sheriff, however, conveyed the whole of both lots to Keith, who soon afterwards got himself registered under the act as the proprietor of the land – no caveat having been lodged by Robertson. Keith then brought an action of ejectment against Robertson, who filed a bill to restrain proceedings in it, and to have himself declared the owner of the part he purchased from Western. It has been generally supposed that certificates of title are unimpeachable, except in cases where the land has been held in adverse possession for a period of 15 years, but Mr. Justice Molesworth held in the case now under notice that as section 49 saves the rights of tenants, that Robertson was a tenant at will of this land, and therefore that Keith took it subject to his rights, and a decree was made directing Keith to sign a transfer to Robertson.

argus 1870

Robertson v Keith (1870) 1 VLR(E) 11

The Argus Thu 3 Mar 1870. p5