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Legal title to property is a legally recognised interest in property, whether it is a parcel of land or a chattel (a thing). Equitable title to property is title expressed as a right to that property which arises from some incomplete or partly defective transfer of that legal title, or where the person has some legitimate or lawful interest in the value of that property. There are many instances under which an individual may claim equitable title to something. Where equitable title to property is claimed, the laws of trust are invoked. A trust is a mechanism by which an individual may have legal title to property but holds the property for the benefit of another (who is said to have an equitable interest in the property). Trust can be established expressly, for some purpose, or inferred or implied by a court to redress some injustice.

Be that as it may, one item of property may have multiple claimants over its title. A classic example of this would be a parcel of land on which something has been constructed. The land may be under mortgage. The owner may claim that he has paid off all liabilities. The person who built a structure on the land may have never been paid for his work. Another party may have contributed funds for the purchase of the original land and never been repaid. All of these parties have competing interests in the property and collectively may be legal or equitable owners of the land.

The question is, who has priority. This is where the services of a priority dispute solicitor may be useful. There are certain distinct rules which govern the laws of priority. Generally speaking, the legal title will defeat an equitable title. However there are exceptions to this in some circumstances. Likewise, an equitable claim which is first in time may defeat an equitable claim which arises subsequently. But here too, there may be exceptions depending on the particulars of each case. At Navado, we will be able to consider all the facts of the case and provide legal advice concerning the priority of each claim over title.

If you require assistance with claiming or disputing an equitable interest, we recommend that you contact our firm and arrange an appointment to see one of our Property & Personal Property Dispute Solicitors. To book, please call (02) 9233 4048 or send an email to info@navado.com.au. 

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This webpage (and any material or wording appearing on this webpage) is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute any Legal Advice. It does not take into account your objectives, your instructions or all of the relevant facts and/or circumstances. Navado accepts no responsibility to any person who relies on the information provided on this website. We further refer you to our Disclaimer.

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