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MORTGAGE DEBT HAS TO BE OUTSTANDING FOR MORTGAGEE TO TAKE POSSESSION

Dictum

A deed of legal mortgage is said to have been created once an agreement exists between the parties, and the instrument signed by the parties which is described as a legal mortgage, provided it is under a seal. Therefore, the legal effect of a deed of legal mortgage is that it allows the mortgagee exercise its possessory rights over the mortgage property. It is to be noted however, that caveat in the position of a mortgagee remains that the mortgage debt has to be outstanding and unliquidated in order for the right of a mortgagee to immediate possession of the mortgaged property to become activated. See AFRIBANK V. ALADE (2000) LPELR – 10722 (CA) and S.W.V. (NIG) LTD V. AMCON (2020) 3 NWLR (prt 1710) 179.

— M.L. Shuaibu, JCA. FBN v Benlion (2021) – CA/C/31/2016

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BAD FAITH ON THE PURCHASER OF MORTGAGE PROPERTY

The law of sale by auction or auction sale protects the purchaser and that is the basis of the principle of law that a mortgagor’s right essentially is in damages. The law has an important qualification and it is that the purchaser must have bought the mortgaged property in good faith, that is bona fide and not in bad faith, that is mala fide. The sympathies of the law on the purchaser will vanish the moment the court comes to the conclusion that the purchaser bought the property in bad faith. Bad faith on the part of the purchaser is a matter of fact to be deduced from the totality of the purchasing or buying conduct of the purchaser. Bad faith taints or better still, destroys a mortgage sale and therefore the property in the sale.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Okonkwo v. Cooperative Bank (2003)

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MORTGAGE DEBT SUPERSEDES EQUITABLE MORTGAGE

I have showed above that the only interest the 1st respondent in equity can deal with is the equity of redemption not the legal estate in the said property. The appellant from the very beginning of the deal with the 1st respondent over the said property has been aware i.e. acquainted with due notice of the bank loan and the mortgage of the said property to the 2nd respondent and the lodgement of the title deeds of the said property with the 2nd respondent to secure the bank loan. The appellant has had due notice that all he was negotiating was as regards the 1st respondent’s interests in the equity of redemption. And so, any purported attempt to transfer the legal estate by the mortgagor to the appellant as the 2nd relief in the claim is contending without getting rid of the mortgage debt and so, supersede the 2nd respondent’s equitable mortgage cannot be allowed in equity.

– Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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EQUITY LOOKS AT SUBSTANCE NOT FORM IN MORTGAGES

In determining whether any given transaction is in the nature of a mortgage, equity looks at the substance of the matter and not merely at the form. – Iguh JSC. Ejikeme v. Okonkwo (1994)

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WHERE MORTGAGE IS BY CHARGE

In other words where the mortgage is by way of charge, and not by conveyance, the mortgagee takes no estate whatsoever in the land or in the property but he has generally only an equitable interest to be enforced by sale upon an order of court. The equitable charge simpliciter only gives a right to payment out of the property; it does not amount to an agreement to give a legal mortgage at all. The strict mode of enforcing the charge is, however, by sale (or appointment of a receiver under an order of court) but never by foreclosure. On the other hand where, as here, the agreement is to create a legal mortgage when required following a default in the terms of the agreement, the agreement may be enforced according to its terms notwithstanding that the legal mortgage when executed will also confer on the mortgagee an immediate power of sale.

– Idigbe JSC. Ogundiani v. Araba (1978)

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EQUITABLE MORTGAGE HAS PART PERFORMANCE

“An equitable mortgage is an agreement that has arisen out of the deposit of the mortgagor’s title deeds with the mortgagee for loan as security. The essence of an equitable mortgage by deposit of title deeds is an agreement, between parties concerned, followed by an act of part performance. Where a party pursuant to an oral agreement deposits his title deeds with a bank as here, the act of depositing the title deeds is regarded as part performance of an agreement, which removes the transaction from the provisions of the Statute of Frauds 1677.” as per Barclays Bank of Nigeria Ltd. v. Alhaji Adamu B. Ashiru and Anor. (1978) 6-7 S.C. (Reprint) 70; (1978) 6-7 S.C. 70

– Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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FORECLOSURE PROCEEDING IS FOR EQUITABLE MORTGAGE – MORTGAGOR HOLDS LEGAL ESTATE IN TRUST

In considering the scope of the rights of an equitable mortgagee (not by way of charge) it should be borne in mind that the general rule is that foreclosure (and not sale) is the proper remedy of an equitable mortgagee (See James vs James (1873) L.R. 16 E. 153 citing with approval Pryce vs Bury at 154); and when an equitable mortgagee by deposit of title deeds and agreement to give a legal mortgage if called upon to do so takes foreclosure proceedings to enforce his security, the court usually decrees that the deposit operates as a mortgage and that in default of payments due under the mortgage the mortgagor is trustee of the legal estate for the mortgagee and that he must convey that estate to him.

– Idigbe JSC. Ogundiani v. Araba (1978)

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