Dewar v Dewar: ChD 1975

The court was asked whether a payment of pounds 500 by their mother to one of two brothers who were the litigants was to be treated as a gift or as a loan. The evidence showed that the mother always intended it to be a gift, that the son wanted to receive it as a loan, but that he did not refuse to take it at all. The judge considered submissions about the need for the recipient to accept the thing as a gift, and therefore as to the relevance of the intention of the recipient as well as that of the payer or deliverer. He concluded that acceptance by the recipient of the thing given was necessary, but no more than that.
Held: The recipient can refuse to take it, or if it arrives without prior arrangement he can reject it or send it back when he becomes aware of it. For a transaction to have effect as a gift the donor must actually intend to immediately give legal or beneficial ownership of the property to the donee.
The question has to be determined with reference to the intention of the payer.
Goff J said: ‘where a person intends to make a gift and the donee receives the thing given, knows that he has got it and takes it, the fact that he says: ‘well, I will only accept it as a loan, and you can have it back when you want it’ does not prevented from being an effective gift. Of course, it does not turn it into a loan unless the donor says: ‘very well, let it be a loan.’ He could not force the donor to take it back, but the donor, having transferred it to him effectively and completely, intending to make a gift, and he – so far from repudiating it – having kept it, it seems to me that that is an effective gift . . ‘


Goff J


[1975] 1 WLR 1532, [1975] 2 All ER 728;


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedMeisels v Lichtman and Another QBD 9-Apr-2008
The court considered gifts to charity: ‘Where there is a dispute it seems to me that it is the intentions of the donor nor that will be crucial, rather than the more familiar exercise of ascertaining the intentions of both parties in construing the . .
CitedScott v Bridge and Others ChD 25-Nov-2020
Claim to recover money and property said to have been transferred by the claimant to the defendants or one or more of them. The money concerned came from a bank account belonging to the claimant. The property concerned consisted of two . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contract, Equity

Updated: 04 May 2022; Ref: scu.656368