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DOCTRINE OF FIXTURES- EXPLAINED

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

By

D. Ramki, III year The Central Law College, Salem

Introduction

A fixture is a chattel which is attached to the land and becomes a part of the land. Under English law the doctrine of fixtures is explained through two maxims, they are,

1. Quic quid plantatur solo, solo cedit’ which means, whatever planted in the Earth becomes the part of the Earth and the owner of the land will become the owner of the thing placed in the Earth.

2. Quic quid inaedificatur solo, solo cedit’ which means, whatever built or embedded in the soil becomes the part of the Earth and the owner of the land will become the owner of the thing built or embedded in the Earth.


Tests

There are three tests to determine whether a chattel after the attachment has become a fixture or not. They are

1. Mode of attachment and consequences of its detachment

2. Object or intention of attachment

3. By whom attached


Difference between chattels and fixtures

‘Fixtures’ are those material things which are physically attached to the soil and also it becomes the property of the owner

A chattel is also a physical object even though it is placed in some close relation with the land it never becomes the property of the owner.


Important matters to determine the fixtures

1. The removal of the chattel would cause damage to the land or buildings to which the chattel attached

2. The mode and structure of annexation

3. Whether the cost of renewal would exceed the value of the attached property

4. Does that the chattel require affixation to function properly or to be enjoyed

Leigh v. Taylor

In this case, a house was built with wood but it doesn’t attach to the land. The court held that the house was considered as a chattel and not a fixture.


The doctrine of fixtures might be relevant when

· Sold: fixtures are passed to the buyers when the land is sold

· Mortgaged: the fixtures are passed to the mortgagee but not the chattels

· Leased to a tenant: special rules applied to fixtures installed by a tenant

· Landowner dies: fixtures automatically pass to the owner’s legal heirs after his death

· The land is given by gift: fixtures will be passed to the new owner but not the chattels


Degree of annexation

1. If the chattel is attached to the land other than its weight (by screws or bolts) it is also considered as a fixture

2. If the chattel is only attached by its weight then the chattel is not a fixture even though it is attached to the soil.


Conclusion

Fixtures are the physical object which is permanently attached to the land and also becomes the property of the landowner. A fixture becomes more apparent when it is attached to land to enhance the use or increase its value. The building which is attached to the land is an example of fixtures.

The chattels can be described as any property except freehold land. They are usually movable property; they are neither land nor permanently attached to the land.

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