The court considered the division of proceeds of sale of a house bought by an unmarried couple.
Held: Where the trusts for which a property was purchased have been concluded, the house should be sold.
Griffiths LJ said: ‘the fact that one party paid the mortgage may indicate that it was recognised by the couple that that party was solely responsible for providing the purchase price and therefore to be regarded as the sole beneficial owner . . When the proceeds of sale are realised there will have to be equitable accounting between the parties before the money is distributed. If the woman has left, she is entitled to receive an occupation rent, but if the man has kept up all the mortgage payments, he is entitled to credit for her share of the payments:if he has spent money on recent redecoration which results in a much better sale price, he should have credit for that, not as an altered share, but by repayment of the whole or a part of the money he has spent. These are but examples of the way in which the balance is to be struck . . It might in exceptional circumstances be inferred that the parties agreed to alter their beneficial interests after the house was bought; an example would be if the man bought the house in the first place and the woman years later used a legacy to build an extra floor to make more room for the children. In such circumstances the obvious inference would be that the parties agreed that the woman should acquire a share in the greatly increased value of the house produced by her money. But this depends on the court being able to infer an intention to alter the share in which the beneficial interest was previously held; the mere fact that one party has spent time and money on improving the property will not normally be sufficient to draw such an inference.’
Griffiths LJ, Lord Denning MR, Kerr LJ
 1 Ch 391,  3 All ER 162,  2 WLR 1052
England and Wales
Cited – Pettitt v Pettitt HL 23-Apr-1969
A husband and wife disputed ownership of the matrimonial home in the context of the presumption of advancement.
Lord Reid said: ‘These considerations have largely lost their force under present conditions, and, unless the law has lost its . .
Cited – Clarke v Harlowe ChD 12-Aug-2005
The parties lived together. They acquired between them several properties of which the last was declared to be held as joint tenants. The relationship broke down. The parties now sought a declaration as to the destination of the proceeds of sale, . .
Cited – Stack v Dowden HL 25-Apr-2007
The parties had cohabited for a long time, in a home bought by Ms Dowden. After the breakdown of the relationship, Mr Stack claimed an equal interest in the second family home, which they had bought in joint names. The House was asked whether, when . .
Cited – James v Thomas CA 23-Nov-2007
The claimant sought an interest in the property registered in the sole name of the respondent. The respondent had inherited a share in the property, and then bought out the interests of his siblings with support of a loan. The claimant had made no . .
Cited – Hopton v Miller ChD 31-Aug-2010
The parties had entered into partnership to open and run a restaurant, but without a formal agreement. They differed as to the values contributed by their respective efforts. After failures to disclose materials requested, the defendant we precluded . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 16 November 2021; Ref: scu.240309