Clarke and Another v Corless and Another: ChD 8 Jul 2009

The parties disputed whether one could retain for his own benefit land on an estate reserved for an estate road. A trust was claimed under Pallant saying that the parties had made an informal agreement before the property was purchased.
Held: Any original agreement had lapsed before contracts were exchanged, and were no longer applicable. Proudman J summarised the applicable law: ‘although the agreement between the parties requires less than contractual certainty (for otherwise a constructive trust would not be necessary) it is not engaged with anything less than an express accord between the parties. The court does not impute an agreement to the parties based on conduct alone although of course conduct could lead the court to infer that there had as a matter of fact been consensus.
Secondly, while unconscionable behaviour is a necessary condition for relief by way of constructive trust, it is insufficient by itself. . . the court should have two aims: one is to recognise and prevent unconscionable conduct, but the other is to protect people from unintended legal consequences resulting from informal relationships. Thus while something less than contractual certainty will suffice it is not clear in the absence of some rubric such as ‘subject to contract’ how informal the consensus may be. What does seem to me to be plain as a matter of law is that in order to be enforced there must be a clear agreement on the basic details of the arrangement without difference of principle.
Thirdly, in order to succeed, the claimants have to show that they relied on the alleged agreement, arrangement or understanding. Typically that would be by staying out of the market themselves, or by committing expenditure that they would not otherwise have committed, but on any view their activity or inactivity must be referable to the consensus on which they rely. ‘

Proudman J
[2009] EWHC 1636 (Ch), [2009] 2 P and CR DG24
England and Wales
CitedPallant v Morgan ChD 1952
The agents of two neighbouring landowners orally agreed in the auction room that the plaintiff’s agent would refrain from bidding at auction and that the defendant, if his agent’s bid was successful, would divide the land according to an agreed . .
CitedYeoman’s Row Management Ltd and Another v Cobbe HL 30-Jul-2008
The parties agreed in principle for the sale of land with potential development value. Considerable sums were spent, and permission achieved, but the owner then sought to renegotiate the deal.
Held: The appeal succeeded in part. The finding . .
CitedBanner Homes Group Plc v Luff Developments and Another CA 10-Feb-2000
Competing building companies agreed not to bid against each other for the purchase of land. One proceeded and the other asserted that the land was then held on trust for the two parties as a joint venture.
Held: Although there was no formal . .
CitedKeefe v Amor CA 1965
The Court declined to limit the extent of a right of way 20 feet wide by reference to the bottleneck at its entrance from the road of 4 feet 6 inches, consisting of a pair of gate pillars and a gate of that width. The grant was over the whole 20 . .
CitedScott v Martin 1987
When construing a land contract, the parties should not readily be assumed to have intended to act in breach of planning requirements . .
CitedB and Q Plc v Liverpool and Lancashire Properties Ltd ChD 26-Jul-2000
The dominant owner wished to deal with delivery vehicles in a manner where they were left parked awaiting emptying. The servient owner (a lessee) wanted to construct buildings over a large part of the land. The servient owner objected.
Held: . .

Cited by:
Appeal fromClarke and Another v Corless and Another CA 31-Mar-2010
The claimants appealed against refusal of a declaration that a neighbouring access road and land was held on a constructive trust. They said that an agreement bewteeen the parties should have been effective to impose a trust on the defendants. The . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Trusts

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.347456