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Chhokar v Chhokar

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Court of Appeal

[1984] FLR 313

Looking westwards along Clarence Street - geograph.org.uk - 1521593.jpg

Chhokar v Chhokar [1984] FLR 313 is an English land law case, concerning the meaning of actual occupation for the purpose of securing an overriding interest.


[Case LawLand] ['actual occupation'] Chhokar v Chhokar [1984] FLR 313 CA


Mr and Mrs Chhokar married on 18 April 1975.

May 1977: Mr Chhokar bought 60 Clarence Street, Southall, for the purchase price of £9250 with a deposit of £700. Mrs Chhokar substantially contributed to the family fortunes to the tune of approximately £3000.
1978: There were matrimonial difficulties and they both travelled to India to visit their parents. Mr Chhokar tries to abandon her in India but Mrs Chhokar returns in November 1978, a few weeks later.
December 1978: An acquaintance of Mr Chhokar, Mr Parmar, visits the house under the guise of a potential lodger. They sign a contract of sale for the marital home for £12000 (an undervalue) and the date of completion was fixed at 12 February. This was the date on which Mrs Chhokar was scheduled to deliver their second child in hospital.
However, Mrs Chhokar did not deliver on 12 February. She delivered on 16 February and so Mr Chhokar and Mr Parmar deferred the completion of the sale to that day. Mr Parmar then put the house on the market for £18,000.When Mrs Chhokar returned, she discovered the locks had been changed. She broke in but was forced out by Mr Parmar who threatened and assaulted her. Mrs Chhokar managed to gain entry to the house again and stayed put.

The question for the court was whether Mrs Chhokar could be said to be in 'actual occupation' even though she wasn't physically present in the house at the time of the sale.

High Court

Ewbank J ordered that Mr Parmar held the property on trust for himself and Mrs Chhokar in equal shares, and that it be sold in 9 months. Till then, she should pay him a rent of £8 a week. She appealed, arguing she should stay rent free until a sale.

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal held the purpose of the trust was to give Mrs Chhokar and her children a home. There was no reason for an order for sale, having regard to the interest of third parties. Because Mr Parmar stepped into Mr Chhokar’s shoes, it would be inequitable for her to have to pay an occupational rent, but he should be entitled to credit for paying off the mortgage. Accordingly, she and Mr Parmar held the house as tenants in common in equity in equal shares. Cumming-Bruce LJ remarked that for the question about whether an order for sale should be made, the bankruptcy case law was relevant. He first referred to Goff LJ in Re Holliday [1981] 1 Ch 405, before continuing his judgment.

By contrast Mr Parmar’s voice croaked with an immoral stigma. ‘Everything that he did from first to last in connection with the transaction is stamped with immoral stigma.’ The judge was wrong to make an order for sale.

Reeve J concurred.


Chhokar v Chhokar Wikipedia