Land law

Since completing their purchase, John and Paula have now sought your advice on several matters.

Firstly, they were shocked to discover that the wine cabinet had been removed from the cellar, with only the brackets that secured it to the wall being left behind. Also, to their dismay, the tree house had been removed. (A neighbour has told them that workmen spent a whole day disassembling the tree house, before taking it away in a lorry, the day before the sale of Oakwood was completed).

Secondly, just as it was when Paula and John first viewed the property, a large bedroom at the house is still full of antique French furniture; paintings of France and photographs of an elderly, white-haired lady. Monique, a French lady matching this description, who currently lives in the nearby ‘Prestown Home for the Elderly and Disorientated’ (The Home), has now contacted John and Paula to explain that this is her room. She explained that although Oakwood was registered in the names of Jacques and Vera, she is the mother of Jacques and that she provided much of the money for the purchase of Oakwood by her late son and her daughter-in-law, Vera. Monique says that although she has been living in The Home for several months, she had always intended to return to Oakwood after recuperating from the illness which had caused her to go into the Home. About a month ago, Monique was visited in The Home by Vera and Vera’s solicitor, who came to take instructions from Monique for her Will. The solicitor did ask Monique whether she had any interest in Oakwood, but Monique never responded as she felt uncomfortable discussing the matter in an environment where either Vera or members of staff at The Home might overhear her. 

Thirdly, Oakwood has the benefit of an easement (a right of way) across land belonging to a neighbouring farm. While recently taking a walk over this neighbouring land, Paula noticed a metal object on a newly-ploughed field. She took the object to Prestown museum who have advised her that it seems to be a piece of medieval armour, known as a wrist guard. It appears to be made of bronze with finely-worked silver decoration. Its historical value and rarity combine to make it very valuable.

Paula seeks your advice whether Monique could have an interest in Oakwood which may be binding on Paula and John (you are not required to advise on any rights Paula and John may have against Vera); whether Paula and John have any right to the return of, or compensation for the removal of the wine cabinet and tree-house; and whether they are entitled to keep the object Paula found.

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