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Walsh v Lonsdale (1882) 21 Ch D 9

Background Facts
The Plaintiff [Walsh] entered an agreement to lease a
property off the Defendant [Lonsdale].
The agreement was made, but there was no actual formal
lease (ie, a deed), which means it is not a legal lease.
The Plaintiff was behind on his rent and the Defendant
tried to use his right to 'distress' (right of a landlord to
take tenant's chattels if behind on rent).
The Plaintiff is trying to get an injunction against the
distress. Argument
The Plaintiff argues that the lease was not properly signed
and therefore the landlord does not have the right to
Equitable Leases
An equitable lease arises where there is an agreement to
lease in writing which does not abide by formal
requirements (ie, not a deed).
An equitable lease, where the court would grant specific
performance on the agreement, should be respected
as if it a legal lease.
The lessee acquires an equitable interest in the property,
and accordingly, the lessor acquires some protections
in return for that interest.
0 Both parties have the same entitlements as they
would if it was a legal lease, for example, the
lessor can re-enter the land under certain
conditions (such as breach of contract etc), and
only under those certain conditions (ie, he can be
barred from entering unless these conditions are

Fusion Fallacies
in this judgment, Jessel MR commits the fusion fallacy of
common law and equity when he declares: 'There are
not two estates as there were formerly, one estate at
common law by reason of the payment of the rent from
year to year, and an estate in equity under the
agreement. There is only one Court, and the equity
rules prevail in it'.
Nevertheless, this case is good law (it has been affirmed

Walsh v Lonsdale (1882)

A 7 year lease was granted by Lonsdale to Walsh
over a mill
The lease agreement contained a clause allowing
rent to be paid up front for 1 year upon the
demand of Lonsdale
The lease was not granted by deed, which was
and still is a formal requirement of the creation
of leases with duration exceeding 3 years (now
section 52 of the Law of Property Act 1925)
Londsale (the landlord/lessor) demanded a years
rent upfront. This was not paid and so under
the the now abolished remedy of distress,
Lonsdale seized property belonging to Walsh to
enable the recovery of rent advance
Could Walsh stop Lonsdale from demanding the
years rent and the seizing of his property as
the lease was not formally executed?
The doctrine of Walsh v Lonsdale (1882) was
created, allowing equity to regard as done that
which ought to be done, or more simply,
creating an equitable equivalent of a formally
defective but otherwise legal lease
The doctrine will only operate where the contract
underlying the defective lease complies with the
Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act
1989, in that it is in writing, contains all express
terms, is signed by or on behalf of all parties,
provides for consideration and is specifically