The parties were not married, but had brought together their resources to purchase a home in the name of one of them. Nothing had been said about the respective shares on which the property was to be held.
Held: The shares were to be assessed as at the time of the sale, not the time of the purchase. It was artificial to attribute to them some notional agreement fixed at the date of the purchase.
Chadwick LJ said: ‘in many such cases, the answer will be provided by evidence of what they said and did at the time of the acquisition. But, in a case where there is no evidence of any discussion between them as to the amount of the share which each was to have-and even in a case where the evidence is that there was no discussion on that point-the question still requires an answer. It must now be accepted that (at least in this court and below) the answer is that each is entitled to that share which the court considers fair having regard to the whole course of dealing between them in relation to the property. And in that context, ‘the whole course of dealing between them in relation to the property’ includes the arrangements which they make from time to time in order to meet the outgoings (for example, mortgage contributions, council tax and utilities, repairs, insurance and housekeeping) which have to be met if they are to live in the property as their home.’
Chadwick LJ, Mance LJ, Scott Baker LJ
 EWCA Civ 546, Times 14-Jul-2004,  2 FLR 669,  Fam 211
Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 14, Law of Property Act 1925 53(1)
England and Wales
Cited – Springette v Defoe CA 1-Mar-1992
Property was purchased in joint names, but with no express declaration of the beneficial interests. The couple had lived together for a short time as joint tenants of the local authority. They were able to purchase at a substantial discount from the . .
Cited – Midland Bank v Cooke and Another CA 13-Jul-1995
Equal equitable interest inferrable without proof
The bank sought to enforce a charge given by the husband to secure a business loan. The property was purchased from the husband’s and his family’s resources and the loan, and was in his name. There had been no discussion or agreement between husband . .
Cited – Walker v Hall CA 1984
The court considered the way of distributing property purchased by an unmarried couple: ‘When such a relationship comes to an end, just as with many divorced couples, there are likely to be disputes about the distribution of shared property. How are . .
Cited – Turton v Turton CA 1988
When ascertaining the beneficial interests in a family home purchased by an unmarried couple, those interests had to be ascertained from consideration of the intentions of the parties at the time of the purchase; they were not to be left for . .
Cited – Grant v Edwards and Edwards CA 24-Mar-1986
A couple were not married but lived together in Vincent Farmhouse in which the plaintiff claimed a beneficial interest on separation. The female partner was told by the male partner that the only reason for not acquiring the property in joint names . .
Cited – Eves v Eves CA 28-Apr-1975
The couple were unmarried. The female partner had been led by the male partner to believe, when they set up home together, that the property would belong to them jointly. He had had told her that the only reason why the property was to be acquired . .
Cited – Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset HL 29-Mar-1990
The house had been bought during the marriage but in the husband’s sole name. The plaintiff’s charge secured the husband’s overdraft. The bank issued possession proceedings. Mr Rosset had left, but Mrs Rosset claimed, as against the bank an interest . .
Approved – McFarlane v McFarlane CANI 1972
The parties disputed their respective shares in the family home. The facts in Pettitt and Gissing ‘were not such as to facilitate or encourage a comprehensive statement of this vexed branch of the law’ and ‘much remains unsettled.’ The court . .
Cited – Stokes v Anderson CA 1991
The claimant had made two payments, amounting together to andpound;12,000, towards the acquisition of the one half share of the defendant’s ex-wife in the net equity (valued at andpound;90,000) in a house in which the claimant and the respondent . .
Cited – Huntingford v Hobbs CA 1-Mar-1992
The parties lived together in a property transferred to the woman after her divorce. That house was sold and the defendant contributed the capital. There was a joint mortgage, but the plaintiff alone had an income from which to make payments. The . .
Cited – Evans v Hayward CA 1-Jun-1992
The property had been bought in joint names at a discounted price under a ‘right to buy’ conferred by the Housing Act 1985; but where the discount was substantially attributable to the plaintiff’s former occupation as local authority tenant. The . .
Cited – Saville v Goodall CA 1993
The court considered the requirements to establish that property purchased in one name but for an unmarried couple were to be held on trust: ‘[Counsel] referred us to a recent decision of this court in Springette v Defoe  2 FLR 388, which . .
Cited – Marsh v von Sternberg QBD 1986
In a constructive trust case, a discount from the open market price given to a sitting tenant by the landlord selling a flat was treated as a relevant contribution by the sitting tenant. . .
Cited – Drake v Whipp CA 30-Nov-1995
The parties, an unmarried cohabiting couple, disputed their respective shares in a property held in the man’s sole name. Both had made direct contributions both to the purchase of a barn and to its expensive conversion into a home. The plaintiff . .
Cited – Yaxley v Gotts and Another CA 24-Jun-1999
Oral Agreement Creating Proprietory Estoppel
The defendant offered to give to the Plaintiff, a builder, the ground floor of a property in return for converting the house, and then managing it. They were friends, and the oral offer was accepted. The property was then actually bought in the name . .
Cited – Carlton v Goodman CA 29-Apr-2002
The defendant claimed an interest in a house. The deceased had been a sitting tenant, and wanted to purchase his house. He could not obtain finance alone, and she joined with him, becoming liable under the mortgage. She did not live in the house . .
Cited – Kilcarne Holdings Ltd v Targetfollow (Birmingham) Ltd, Targetfollow Group Ltd ChD 9-Nov-2004
The defendant entered into an agreement for lease, incurring substantial obligations. When it could not meet them it sought assistance from the claimant, who now claimed to have an interest in a joint venture. The draft documentation originally . .
Cited – Cobbe v Yeomans Row Management Ltd and Others ChD 25-Feb-2005
Principles for Proprietary Estoppel
A developer claimed to have agreed that upon obtaining necessary planning permissions for land belonging to the respondents, he would purchase the land at a price reflecting its new value. The defendant denied that any legally enforceable agreement . .
Cited – Strover and Another v Strover and Another ChD 10-May-2005
Insurance policies had been taken out by the partners in a firm. The surviving family of one and the remaining partners contested ownership. The policy was held in part for the benefit of the family. The premiums had been paid from partnership . .
Cited – Stack v Dowden CA 13-Jul-2005
The parties purchased a property together. The transfer contained a survivorship restriction but no declaration of the beneficial interests. The judge had held the property to be held as tenants in commn on equal shares.
Held: In a case where . .
Cited – Van Laethem v Brooker and Another ChD 12-Jul-2005
The claimant asserted an interest in several properties by virtue of a common intention constructive trust or by proprietary estoppel. The parties had been engaged to be married.
Held: ‘A [constructive] trust arises in connection with the . .
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 – Fowler v Barron CA 23-Apr-2008
The parties had lived together for many years but without marrying. The house had been put in joint names, but without specific advice on the issue or any express declaration of trust. In practice Mr Barron made the direct payments for the house and . .
Cited – Williams v Lawrence and Another ChD 28-Jul-2011
The claimant, as trustee for the deceased’s insolvent estate, sought a declaration that a transfer of the deceased’s share in property made by the executors was void as being at an undervalue. The property was subject to a right of occupation in . .
Cited – Jones v Kernott SC 9-Nov-2011
Unmarried Couple – Equal division displaced
The parties were unmarried but had lived together. They now disputed the shares in which they had held the family home. It had been bought in joint names, but after Mr Kernott (K) left in 1993, Ms Jones (J) had made all payments on the house. She . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.196770