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

Dictum

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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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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RESULTING TRUST IS TRUST IMPLICIT IN THE CONDUCT OF PARTIES

Resulting Trust is a trust that can be readily deduced as being implicit in the conduct of parties but without express intent. Black’s Law Dictionary relies on the definition of a resulting trust as made out in the case of Lifemark Corp. vs. Newit Jx. App. 14 Dist, 655 SW. 2d 310, 316 as a’ “trust that arises where a person makes or causes to be made a disposition of property under circumstances which raise an inference that he does not intend that person taking or holding that property should have the beneficial interest therein, unless inference is rebutted or the beneficial interest is otherwise effectively disposed of’.

— Pats-Acholonu, JSC. Ezennah v Atta (2004) – SC.226/2000

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ONCE MORTGAGE ALWAYS MORTGAGE

An important feature of mortgages both legal or equitable is that once a mortgage always a mortgage and nothing but a mortgage. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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RIGHT TO REDEMPTION IN MORTGAGE CANNOT BE BARRED

It is a settled rule of equity that any agreement which directly bars the mortgagor’s right to redemption is ineffectual. – Iguh JSC. Ejikeme v. Okonkwo (1994)

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EFFECT OF NOTICE ON PURCHASER OF AN EQUITABLE MORTGAGE

This brings us to the subject of the equitable doctrine of “Notice.” It is usually said that a purchaser of the legal estate in any property for value and without notice has an “absolute, unqualified and unanswerable defence” to any claim of a prior equitable owner or person having a prior equitable interest in the same property (see Pilcher Vs Rawlings (1872) 7 Ch. App. 259 at 269 per James L.J.). Where, however, the purchaser, as here, has notice of a prior equitable mortgage in the property in which he seeks to take a legal estate he has a duty, by himself or by his vendor, to get rid of that prior equitable interest otherwise he is taking unnecessary risk.

– Idigbe JSC. Ogundiani v. Araba (1978)

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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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