Legal Maxim

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He who is earlier in time is stronger in Law




It means he who is first in time is first in right or one who is prior in time has a superior right in law. The maxim is qui prior est tempore potior est jure: he who is earlier in time is stronger in law. Accordingly, where there are two competing equitable interests, the general rule of equity is that the person whose equity attached to the property first will be entitled to priority over the other. Where the equities are equal and neither claimant has the legal estate, the first in time prevails. This maxim is incorporated in Section 48 of Transfer of Property Act in India.


X mortgages his property to Y for Rs. 90,000/-. And then sells the property to Z. Here two transfers have taken place. Now Z owns the property but according to the law, the property is still subject to the mortgage and in case of default of payment of the loan, the mortgagee can cause the property to be sold. As the later transfer is subject to the prior transfer.


In the case of S. Arunachalam vs. Sivan Perumal Asari it was held that this rule applies only to cases where the conflicting equities are otherwise equal.

The Madras High Court in Duraiswami Reddi vs. Angappa Reddi held that the prior transferee would be entitled to enforce his rights through his document is registered later and even if the subsequent transferee entered into transactions bona fide without knowledge of the first transaction. It was held that this result was implicit and was a direct consequence of the combined operation of Section 47 of the Registration Act and Section 48 of the Transfer of Property Act.

This Maxim has been written and submitted by Ms. Agrima during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Ms. Agrima is a third-year law student at Hidayatullah National Law University, Naya Raipur, Chhattisgarh.

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