Armstrong v Onyearu and Another: CA 11 Apr 2017

Exoneration of partner’s equity on insolvency

The court considered the equity of exoneration, where property jointly owned by A and B is charged to secure the debts of B only, A is or may be entitled to a charge over B’s share of the property to the extent that B’s debts are paid out of A’s share.
Held: The trustee’s appeal failed. The equity of exoneration was part of the relief generally made available to sureties against a principal debtor, subject to exceptions supported by evidence that a contrary intention existed or where it could be inferred from the circumstances that the equity should not apply. It had in the past been applied to family units outside marriage.

Vos Ch, David Richards LJJ, Sir Patrick Elias
[2017] EWCA Civ 268, [2017] WLR(D) 271,
Bailii, WLRD
Married Women’s Property Act 1882
England and Wales
CitedPaget v Paget CA 1898
The plaintiff wife was ‘a lady of fortune’, with the bulk of her property settled on her for life for her separate use without power of anticipation. They ‘moved in good society and, large as their income was, they lived far beyond it.’ They were . .
CitedGee v Liddell ChD 1913
A co-mortgagor has an ‘interest in [and] a charge upon the estate of the principal debtor’. An equity of exoneration was applied as between brothers.
An equity of exoneration operates in the nature of ‘a charge upon the estate of the principal . .
CitedRe a debtor (No 24 of 1971), ex parte Marley (J) v Trustee of the property of the debtor ChD 1976
The court will look to the realities of the relationship between the mortgagors and will not be governed by the terms of the mortgage instrument if they do not accord with the actual facts.
Held: the court accepted that an equity of . .
Citedin Re Berry (a bankrupt) 1978
A married couple opened a joint bank account. H’s business fell into difficulties and overdraft facilities were arranged, secured by a mortgage over their jointly-owned house. The account was used both for the husband’s business and for household . .
CitedParsons v McBain 5-Apr-2001
Federal Court of Australia – BANKRUPTCY – constructive trust – transfer of property to beneficiary – whether void as against trustee in bankruptcy
EQUITY – equity of exoneration – how defeated
TRUSTS – ‘common intention constructive . .
CitedDay v Shaw and Another ChD 17-Jan-2014
Mr and Mrs Shaw had granted a second charge over their jointly-owned matrimonial home to secure the personal guarantee given by their daughter and by Mr Shaw in respect of a bank loan to a company (Avon). Their daughter and Mr Shaw were the . .
ApprovedHall v Hall ChD 1911
An equity of exoneration in favour of a wife arises ‘at the time she charges her estate’. The doctrine of exoneration is based on an inference in each case from all the facts of that particular case. Where one co-habitee joins in granting a charge . .
CitedIn Re Pittortou (a bankrupt) ChD 1985
H and W charged the property to secure the H’s overdrawn bank account. The account was used both for his business and for payment of expenses relating to the matrimonial home. H was adjudicated bankrupt. W sought her equity to be exonerated from H’s . .
CitedCadlock v Dunn and Another ChD 13-May-2015
The equity of exoneration could be applied for a wife who had charged her beneficial half share of the matrimonial property to secure a loan to her husband to enable him to re-acquire his half share from his trustee in bankruptcy. The wife obtained . .
CitedGraham-York v York and Others CA 10-Feb-2015
The claimant challenged a possession order made in respect of the house she occupied, alleging a constructive trust in her favour. The house had been occupied by the unmarried co-habiting couple for nearly 25 years before the death of one of them. . .
CitedRe Chawda (in bankruptcy) 2014
Mr Chawda and his wife jointly owned a residential property which they charged to secure a loan, part of which refinanced the original purchase loan. The case concerned the balance of about 78,000 pounds. Mr Chawda and his brother carried on . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Insolvency, Equity

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.581738