It is not uncommon for persons to wish to lodge a caveat on another person’s land. However caveats can only be lodged when there is a “caveatable interest”.

What is a Caveatable Interest?

A caveatable interest is an interest in land that is legally sufficient to justify a caveat.

The following are some examples of caveatable interests:

  • the interest held by a purchaser under an agreement for the sale of land
  • an easement
  • an option to purchase the land
  • the interest held by a mortgagee or an equitable mortgagee
  • a charge
  • a lease
  • the interest held by a beneficiary of a trust, regarding land held by the trust
  • a right to receive portion of the proceeds of land upon a sale
  • a right to take a natural product from specific land, such as stone, or timber, or to shoot game
  • a restrictive covenant

The Effect of a Caveat

A caveat is registered upon the Certificate of Title and operates as notification to anyone who may be interested in purchasing the property. Though there are exceptions, a caveat generally means that no transactions can be registered on a Certificate of Title that is inconsistent with the caveat.

Removal of a Caveat

Under the Transfer of Land Act 1893 (WA) a caveat can be removed from a Certificate of Title in a number of ways, including:

  • Withdrawal by the caveator
  • Lapse pursuant to the issue of a s138B of the Transfer of Land Act 1893 (WA)
  • Order of the Supreme Court
  • Sale of the property pursuant to a property (seizure and sale) order

The Risks of Wrongfully Lodging a Caveat

The Victorian decision of Deutsch v Rodkin demonstrates the risks of lodging a caveat without good cause. In this case, the defendants believed that Erwin had misappropriated significant sums of money from them and had transferred his house into his wife’s name (Tziporah) to avoid paying any judgment obtained against him. Learning that the house was to be sold, the defendants lodged a series of caveats against the property. The Supreme Court held that the defendants had no caveatable interest for the dominant purpose of injuring Tziporah and her family and to prevent the sale of the house. The court held that the defendants were liable to pay damages to Tziporah, made up of:

  • costs of a cancelled auction
  • the additional Interest paid on the mortgage
  • legal costs paid by Tziporah in relation to removal of the caveats
  • the drop in the value of the property due to a fall in the market
  • the drop of the value of the property caused by purchasers being deterred from purchasing due to the lodgement of the caveats
  • exemplary damages because the defendants had abused the caveat procedure


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