Outlook Finance Limited v. William Lindsay, Executor Nominate in the estates of Euan Mcintyre Lindsay – standard security descriptions and pre-action requirements

Sheriff court case relating to a standard security granted in favour of Outlook Finance over Harperfield Farm near Lanark.

The standard security was granted by Euan Lindsay in October 2010 as security for a loan of £1,355,000. Euan Lindsay died in June 2011 and his executor continued to make contractual monthly interests payments on the loan until October 2012 but no payments were made after that. Outlook served a calling up notice in September 2014 and sought to recover possession of the property.

The description of the subjects in the standard security contained a description of the subjects by reference to the name of the subjects and by reference to a Sasines title recorded in the Register of Sasines (all of which was accurate). However, it also contained a particular description (i.e. a description identifying the boundaries of the property) of the subjects in a schedule which was incorrect (it had been taken from a prior title but text referring to exceptions from the property had been omitted.). The error was then repeated in the calling up notice.

The executor argued that the error in the particular descriptions invalidated the documents and meant that Outlook’s action seeking repossession of the property was incompetent. The executor also argued that Outlook had failed to comply with pre-action requirements[1] requiring the provision of information to the debtor.

After considering the authorities, the sheriff found that a faulty description of subjects in a standard security will be sufficient so long as what is contained within the descriptions enable the subjects of the security to be correctly identified (after reasonable search and enquiry if necessary) with certainty.

The sheriff said the following:

“I conclude that there is in the standard security an error in that while the subjects were correctly described by reference, owing to a mere clerical error or oversight, part of the full particular description was omitted. So, if one sets aside the particular description, what remains is a fully sufficient description of the subjects, sufficient to accurately identify them without any reasonable doubt. That error has not led to any practical error in identifying the subjects of the standard security which is Harperfield Farm in the standard security. The precise boundaries of those subjects are apparent from the description by reference. The error has led to no confusion about that fact in anyone’s mind, not least, the present defender.”

As such, the sheriff found that both the standard security and the calling up notice were valid despite the errors in the particular description.[2]

Pre-action requirements

In terms of the legislation[3] (before commencing repossession proceedings): “the creditor must provide the debtor with clear information about-

(a) the terms of the standard security;

(b) the amount due to the creditor under the standard security, including any arrears and any charges in respect of late payment or redemption; and

(c) any other obligation under the standard security in respect of which the debtor is in default.”

Outlook argued that it had done this in a letter of 14 December 2014 but the sheriff disagreed. The main problem for Outlook related to the specification of the amount due in the letter. The letter stated that the account balance (and also the account arrears) amounted to £2,884,536.97. However, the letter did not specify how that figure had been arrived at. The sheriff found that the obligation to provide clear information meant that there should be no reasonable doubt as to how the total amount said to be due had been arrived at and that an accounting should be provided showing the principal sum borrowed, the arrears of payments due and also the charges attributable to the default. That had not been done in this case. Although it may have been possible for Mr Lindsay to attempt to work out how the figure had been arrived at, the obligation was on the creditor to provide the clear information, not for the debtor to attempt to work it out.

The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.


[1] In terms of the Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act 1970 as amended by the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010. (The pre-action requirements were applicable because part of the property was residential.)

[2] Outlook also sought rectification of the documents (under s 8 and 9 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Scotland Act 1985). However, although the sheriff found that rectification was not competent in the course of these proceedings, he found it was not necessary as the deeds were valid despite the errors.

[3] Section 24A(2) of the Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act 1970.

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