X Factor, Animal Sanctuaries And The Angel Of The North – Who Said The Law Of Involuntary Bailment Is Dull?

Author:Mr Craig Walker
Profession:Goodman Derrick LLP

In the recent case of Campbell - v - Redstone Mortgages Limited [2014] EWHC 3081 (Ch), the High Court considered the duties of mortgagees, landlords and others who find themselves in the position of involuntary bailee of goods left behind at a property after repossession.

The factual background to this case is perhaps one of the more unusual and bizarre in the normally somewhat dry area of repossession and involuntary bailment. Following default in mortgage repayments the Defendant mortgagee, Redstone, had taken possession of the Claimant borrower's former home, which also operated as the Rainbow Ark Animal Sanctuary. After possession was eventually obtained - but not before the Claimant, Miss Campbell, in order to draw attention to the plight of the sanctuary, had chained herself to the Angel of the North and appeared on the X Factor (apparently gaining the support of Simon Cowell) - there were a large number of interlocutory hearings and temporary injunctions were granted to enable Miss Campbell to return and recover her possessions.  Miss Campbell sought guidance from the court in respect of her claim for damages against Redstone in relation to goods which had been left behind at the property following the execution of a warrant of possession.

In law, as mortgagee in possession the Defendant became an involuntary bailee of the goods which it eventually disposed of at a rubbish tip, after numerous notices and opportunities were given for their removal.  One of the issues for the court was to consider whether what the Defendant had done with the goods was right and reasonable.

Redstone's obligation as involuntary bailee was to do what was right and reasonable in the circumstances of the case (an earlier case this year, Da Rocha-Afodu - v - Mortgage Express Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 454, was followed).  The court held that Miss Campbell's tactic of leaving her goods at the property was deliberate and was...

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