The MSPL Postgraduate stream in April allowed PhD students and early career researchers the opportunity to discuss their research projects, receive valuable feedback and get an insight into careers after postgraduate study. This post shall discuss the prevalent themes coming from postgraduate property law research, and highlight some particular research papers of interest.
In late June, the Court of Appeal in Singapore handed down the decision in Chan Yuen Lan v See Fong Mun. The case concerns a claim by the husband in a long-standing marriage, Mr See, for an interest in property held in the sole name of his wife, Madam Chan.
Mdm Chan had contributed her life savings of $250,000 to the purchase of property worth some millions of dollars at the date of trial. Mr See argued that her contribution was simply a loan and that Mdm Chan had wanted to be the owner, so that she could tell her friends that she held the title. As between themselves, he said, she should acknowledge Mr See as the true owner of the property. On Mr See’s evidence, this was done by way of power of attorney in his favour, that embodied this acknowledgement.
At the time of the purchase in 1983, Mr See had taken a lover. Mdm Chan argued that she needed the property as financial security because of Mr See’s infidelity, and not because of a desire to brag to her friends. She said that Mr See had agreed to her holding the title in her name to appease her over his affair and his infidelity.
This case again raises the issue of women’s status before the courts and the underlying assumptions about property across the common law world.
I have just returned from a stimulating couple of days at Bond University on the Gold Coast, which hosted the 12th Australasian Property Law Teachers’ Association Conference. The conference saw a stimulating mix of papers and ongoing discussions amongst the delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK.
In 2011 Queensland updated its legislation concerning dividing fences disputes, introducing the Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 (‘Act’). The Act significantly overhauls the earlier Dividing Fences Act particularly through the introduction of a jurisdiction concerning trees.
Looking through the Act recently, I was noticed that the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘QCAT’) had jurisdiction not only over trees that dropped branches onto neighbours’ land or those which posed a danger to the neighbours. Under s66, QCAT may also make an order relating to ‘interference that is an obstruction of sunlight or a view’. This raises the question of the basis on which such an order may be made. In particular I am interested in whether this creates, by implication, a property right.
The charitable cy-pres doctrine permits the alteration of trust purposes. It is a complex and famously technical area of law. It was described as ‘arcane’ by Lord Diplock, and as ‘metaphysics’ by Lord Neuberger. But it is important. It permits trusts to be changed. It is also a powerful mechanism. Where once weak common law rules inhibited reform, under statute, it has real teeth. Since the enactment of pioneering legislation in the 1960s, it has been possible to reform trusts on the straightforward basis that they are unsuitable or ineffective. That broad and discretionary standard promotes active trust reform.
The Modern Studies in Property Law 2014 conference served as an inspiration for the creation of this blog, and allowed for the necessary platform for academics to meet and discuss their current research. This first post serves as a review of the many prevalent themes coming from contemporary property law academic research in recent years.