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Saunders v Anglia Building Society (Gallie v Lee) [1970] AC 1004- House of Lords

Mrs Gallie, a woman of 78 years, signed a document which stated it was the sale of her interest in her home to Mr Lee. Mr Lee then used that document to obtain a mortgage on the property for £2,000. He failed to keep up repayments on the mortgage and the building society sought possession of the property mortgaged. Mr Lee was a friend of Mr Parkin who was Mrs Gallie's nephew. Mrs Gallie knew that they wished to raise some money and she had agreed to help them. She had told them she would assign her house to the nephew as a gift on condition that he allowed her to remain there rent free for life. She had been told by the two men that the document she signed gave effect to that agreement. She signed the document in both their presence but could not find her glasses so had not been able to read it. The agreement between Mr Lee and Mrs Gallie had been held to be voidable for misrepresentation. However, in the action against the building society Mrs Gallie raised the plea of non est factum (it’s not my deed).

Held: The House of Lords found against Mrs Gallie. The document was not radically different to that which she believed it to be in that she believed that she was relinquishing her rights to the property in any event. Furthermore the House of Lords stated that the plea of non est factum should not be too widely applied and reserved for those who through no fault of their own are unable to read the document eg blind, illiterate or incapacitated through age.

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