Property Law Determination

The classic definition of a fixture is anything which is physically (but not necessarily legally) removable and makes a permanent improvement to the land1. Conversely, a chattel is an item brought onto the land, which doesn’t become part of the land2.The general rule as to what constitutes a fixture is expressed in the Latin phrase quicquid plantatur solo, solo credit, which means that whatever is attached to the soil becomes part of the soil3.The degree of annexation test requires the object to be fastened to or connected with the land in some way for there to be a presumption that it is a fixture. If the object rests on its own weight and is not fixed then there is a presumption that it is a chattel and not a fixture. For example, in the case of Berkley v Poulett5, it was held that a statute resting on its own weight was not a fixture as it was placed there for the purpose of it being enjoyed in itself.In considering the purpose of annexation part of the test, the Courts attempt to discover the purpose the object is serving6. This test is objective and not subjective and it is not concerned with the intention of the person who put the object there. It requires that the purpose of the objects is to enhance the use and enjoyment of the land to make a permanent improvement to the land for it to be a fixture.The case law in relation to the distinction between chattels and fixtures places importance on the purpose of annexation also. In the case of Berkley v Poulett7, Scarman LJ asserted that it remains significant to discover the extent of physical disturbance of the building or the land involved in the removal of the object. If an object cannot be removed without serious damage to or destruction of, some part of the reality, the case for its having become a fixture is a strong one.