Clive Joseph Aronson v The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland and others, 19 December 2014 – whether property disburdened of securities where creditor failed to follow calling up procedure when repossessing

This is an Outer House case in which Mr Aronson sought rectification of the Register. Mr Aronson had bought a property (on Dean Street in Kilmarnock) from the Bank of Scotland which was exercising a power of sale under a standard security following a repossession.

The property previously belonged to Mr Alexander who, in addition to granting the standard security in favour of the Bank of Scotland, had subsequently granted three further securities in favour of two other creditors. When Mr Alexander fell into arrears, the Bank of Scotland obtained a warrant to repossess and sell the property[1] (in May 2010) and subsequently disponed the property to Mr Aronson (in February 2011).  At the time of the repossession proceedings it was common for creditors to repossess and sell property without first following the calling up procedure and, in this case, the Bank had not served a calling up notice. However, in November 2010 the Supreme Court[2] decided that in any case where a creditor seeks repayment of a debt, failing which, the sale of the security subjects, it must first serve a calling up notice and thereafter wait two months before repossessing the property.

Mr Aaronson submitted an application to register the disposition in the Land Register in March 2011. In terms of the (Form 2) application, Mr Aronson required to indicate whether the necessary statutory procedures had been followed in relation to the Bank’s power of sale and, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision noted above and the failure to follow the calling up procedure, Mr Aronson indicated that the necessary procedures had not been complied with.

When the Keeper registered the disposition, she excluded indemnity in respect of Mr Aronson’s title and, although the standard security in favour of the Bank of Scotland did not appear in the Charges Section of the Title Sheet, the three securities in favour of the other two creditors did[3].

In terms of the relevant legislation[4], where a creditor grants a disposition in exercise of a power of sale, the property is disburdened of that security and all other securities ranking equally with it or behind it. Mr Aronson sought to have the register rectified so as to delete the three remaining securities. The Keeper maintained that the register was not inaccurate as the property had not been disburdened of the standard securities on the basis that there had been no sale of the property in terms of the legislation as the Bank had not followed the correct procedure.

Lord Doherty rejected the Keeper’s argument and found that the register was inaccurate. There had been a sale by the bank, within the meaning of the legislation and, as such, the property had been disburdened of the securities.

As to a contention by the Keeper that, allowing the property to be disburdened of the securities where the correct procedures with regards to repossession and sale had not been followed, was to allow the Bank to benefit from its own wrong and was contrary to public interest, Lord Doherty said the following:

 “While I do not rule out entirely the possibility that the circumstances of some sales might be so contrary to public policy that Parliament might be taken to have intended to exclude them from the ambit of s. 26, I am very clear that the circumstances of the sale by the Bank to the pursuer do not fall within any such category.  In treating the loan default as a default in terms of standard condition 9(1)(b), and in proceeding down the s. 24 route, the Bank acted in good faith and in accordance with what was then understood (by the courts, conveyancers, and financial institutions and their advisers) to be a lawful route to sale.  There was no deception or bad faith.  There was no intention to depart from or undermine the proper procedures for sale…  …In such circumstances I see no scope for giving any weight to the canon of construction that a party should not be permitted to benefit from his own wrong.  I am equally clear that there is no justification for giving “sale” in s. 26(1) a strained construction in order to avoid the natural construction producing serious damage to the public interest.  On the contrary, in my view the natural and ordinary meaning relied upon by the pursuer serves the public interest.  On the other hand, deserving persons such as the pursuer would be prejudiced by the strained construction which the first defender suggests.  That strained construction is also one which runs counter to the presumption that a statutory provision should be construed so as not to produce injustice.”

The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.

All of our property and conveyancing case summaries are contained in the LKS Property and Conveyancing Casebook here.


[1] Under s24 of the Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act 1970.

[2] Royal Bank of Scotland plc (Respondent) v Francis John Wilson and another, [2010] UKSC 50.

[3] Notes were appended to the entries excluding indemnity both in respect of any loss arising from rectification of the register to delete the standard securities or from the property being found not to have been disburdened of the above standard security.

[4] S26(1) of the 1970 Act.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.