The High Court in a decision handed down today, considered whether a joint tenant’s title to a property was defeasible as a result of the other joint tenant’s fraud.
In Cassegrain v Gerard Cassegrain & Co Pty Ltd  HCA 2, the respondent company had previously owned a dairy farm situated in NSW. The dairy farm was fraudulently transferred to a director of the company and his wife (the appellant in these proceedings) as joint tenants. The director later transferred the property to his wife for consideration of $1.
The company sought to recover the Dairy Farm from the wife. The company did not allege that the wife was a participant in, or had notice of, the husband’s fraud at the time the property passed to them as joint tenants. Instead the company argued that that the husband was the wife’s agent for the purpose of registering her as joint tenant of the land.
The High Court held that the wife’s title as joint tenant was not defeasible on account of the husband’s fraud as the husband was not her “agent” in any relevant sense.
Nor did it follow from the wife’s registration as joint tenant that her title was defeasible.
However the court held that because the wife was not a bona fide purchaser for value of the husband’s interest in the land, the company was entitled to a one‑half interest in the property.