When is a wall not a wall? Fixtures and fittings

The recent case of Peel Land and Property (Ports No.3) Ltd v TS Sheerness Steel Ltd provides a useful reminder of the distinction between fixtures and fittings, a topic that has plagued property owners, lawyers and the judiciary alike for many years. Although this case doesn’t make new law, it does provide a helpful summary of the law relating to fixtures and fittings and confirms that the answer to the question posed above is that a wall is not a wall when it is a stack of stones.

While a fitting remains personal property, due to its ‘annexation’ to the land, a fixture becomes real property. To complicate matters, however, some fixtures can be detached at which point they will lose their status as real property and revert to being a fitting. In order to deduce the nature of an item, case law has led to the development of two tests, which, while they seem simple in theory, are not always easy to utilise. The first test considers the method and degree of annexation to the land; the second the object and purpose of that annexation. Early case law placed a great deal of importance on the first test, which can be summed up by asking firstly whether the item is fixed to the land and if so how firmly, and secondly what damage will be done by its removal. The answers to these questions will provide an indication as to the nature of the items in question. In order to draw a more definitive conclusion, however, consideration has to be given to the reason for annexation, by ascertaining whether the intention of annexation was to better enjoy the land or the item itself.

If an item has been affixed with a view to effecting a permanent improvement to the land, then the likelihood is that it is a fixture, particularly if the item cannot be removed without serious damage to, or destruction of, part of the land. This is not to say, however, that an item that merely rests on the ground anchored by its own weight cannot still be a fixture, if the purpose of it resting where it does is to better enjoy the land, rather than the object itself. If, on the other hand, the annexation to the land is designed to facilitate the enjoyment of the item itself, then it will remain a fitting (even where there is a relatively high degree of physical annexation)…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the Walker Morris briefing.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.

Briefings from Walker Morris

View more briefings from Walker Morris

Analysis from The Lawyer

View more analysis from The Lawyer


Kings Court
12 King Street

Turnover (£m): 42.50
No. of lawyers: 188