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 a conveyance into joint names indicates only that each party is intended to have some beneficial interest but says nothing about the nature and extent of that beneficial interest that establishes a prime facie case of joint and equal beneficial interests until the contrary is shown.
Held: In a domestic consumer context, a conveyance into joint names indicates both a legal and a beneficial joint tenancy, unless and until the contrary is proved: ‘The burden will be on the person seeking to show that the parties did intend their beneficial interests to be different from their legal interests, and in what way.’
In this case the parties had kept their finances rigidly separate, and Ms Dowden had made a good case for receiving a 65% share of the value. The powers under the 1996 Act replace the old equitable accounting rules, and older case law should no longer be applied.
Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury said: ‘where the resulting trust presumption (or indeed any other basis of apportionment) applies at the date of acquisition, I am unpersuaded that (save perhaps in a most unusual case) anything other than subsequent discussions, statements or actions, which can fairly be said to imply a positive intention to depart from that apportionment, will do to justify a change in the way in which the beneficial interest is owned.’ and ‘The court’s power to order payment to a beneficiary, excluded from property he would otherwise be entitled to occupy, by the beneficiary who retains occupation, is now governed by sections 12 to 15 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, having been formerly equitable in origin. However, I think that it would be a rare case where the statutory principles would produce a different result from that which would have resulted from the equitable principles.’
Baroness Hale summarised the applicable principles in the 1996 Act: ‘Section 12(1) gives a beneficiary who is beneficially entitled to an interest in land the right to occupy the land if the purpose of the trust is to make the land available for his occupation . . Section 13(1) gives the trustees the power to exclude or restrict that entitlement, but under section 13(2) this power must be exercised reasonably. The trustees also have power under section 13(3) to impose conditions upon the occupier. These include, under section 13(5), paying any outgoing or expenses in respect of the land and under section 13(6) paying compensation to a person whose right to occupy has been excluded or restricted. Under section 14(2)(a), both trustees and beneficiaries can apply to the court for an order relating to the exercise of these functions. Under section 15(1), the matters to which the court must have regard in making its order include (a) the intentions of the person or persons who created the trust, (b) the purposes for which the property subject to the trust is held, (c) the welfare of any minor who occupies or might reasonably be expected to occupy the property as his home, and (d) the interests of any secured creditor of any beneficiary. Under section 15(2), in a case such as this, the court must also have regard to the circumstances and wishes of each of the beneficiaries who would otherwise be entitled to occupy the property.’

Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
[2007] 2 WLR 831, [2007] UKHL 17, [2007] 2 All ER 929, [2007] 2 WLR 831, [2007] AC 432, Times 26-Apr-2007, [2007] 1 FLR 1858, [2007] BPIR 913, [2007] Fam Law 593, [2007] 2 FCR 280, [2007] 18 EG 153, (2006-07) 9 ITELR 815, [2007] WTLR 1053
Married Women’s Property Act 1882 17, Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 14
England and Wales
CitedGalloway v Galloway 1929
. .
CitedMcKenzie vNutter ScSf 2007
A cohabiting couple had bought a house in joint names. They intended to live together as a couple in the property, and that they would both sell their own separate houses and apply the proceeds towards the purchase of their new home. In the event . .
CitedWissenbruch v Wissenbruch 1961
. .
CitedSatchwell v McIntosh ScSf 2006
The house had been bought in the name of one cohabitee only. The parties separated. The law of unjust enrichment could be used to allow the other co-habitant the return of sums which he contributed to the purchase of the house and its refurbishment . .
CitedOxley v Hiscock CA 6-May-2004
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 . .
CitedMortgage Corporation Ltd v Shaire and Another ChD 25-Feb-2000
The claimant had an equitable charge over the property, and sought a possession order after failures to keep up repayments. The order was sought under the Act, and the claimants asserted that the conditions for the grant of possession were . .
CitedLloyds 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 . .
CitedDenvir v Denvir 1969
. .
CitedPettitt 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 . .
CitedGissing v Gissing HL 7-Jul-1970
Evidence Needed to Share Benefical Inerests
The family home had been purchased during the marriage in the name of the husband only. The wife asserted that she had a beneficial interest in it.
Held: The principles apply to any case where a beneficial interest in land is claimed by a . .
CitedBedson v Bedson CA 1965
The parties, a married couple disputed the shares in which the matrimonial home, formerly held by them as joint tenants would be held after severance o that joint tenancy.
Held: The wife was entitled to a half share in the property.
CitedMcFarlane 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 . .
CitedEves 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 . .
CitedBernard v Josephs CA 30-Mar-1982
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 . .
CitedLloyds Bank plc v Rosset CA 13-May-1988
Claim by a wife that she has a beneficial interest in a house registered in the sole name of her husband and that her interest has priority over the rights of a bank under a legal charge executed without her knowledge. The case raises a point of . .
ApprovedMuschinski v Dodds 1985
(High Court of Australia) The idea of conscience is too vague a notion to found the principles of equity, it would open the door to ‘idiosyncratic notions of fairness and justice’ and ‘That property was acquired, in pursuance of the consensual . .
CitedDrake 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 . .
CitedCrabb v Arun District Council CA 23-Jul-1975
The plaintiff was led to believe that he would acquire a right of access to his land. In reliance on that belief he sold off part of his land, leaving the remainder landlocked.
Held: His claim to have raised an equity was upheld. The plaintiff . .
CitedMidland 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 . .
CitedGrant 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 . .
CitedSaunders v Edwards CA 24-Mar-1986
The parties had agreed for the sale and purchase of land and chattels, but had deliberately misdescribed the apportionment so as to reduce tax liability. The purchasers then brought an action for misrepresentation. The vendor replied that the action . .
CitedIn re Rogers’ Question CA 1948
Where a wife contributes directly or indirectly, in money or money’s worth, to the initial deposit or to the mortgage instalments, she gets an interest proportionate to her contribution.
Evershed LJ pointed out that the task of a judge after . .
CitedNewgrosh v Newgrosh 28-Jun-1950
. .
CitedJones v Maynard 1951
Former spouses disputed the division of property.
Held: It was appropriate to apply the priciple of equality. The maxim that ‘equality is equity’ provides no more than a fall-back position where no other basis of division is appropriate. . .
CitedRimmer v Rimmer 1953
Where it is not possible for a court to identify the precise contributions made by partners to a property, the court may take a view that ‘They will not necessarily be equal, but may be held so where that conclusion accords with the broad merits of . .
CitedHine v Hine CA 1962
Lord Denning MR said: ‘the jurisdiction of the court over family assets under section 17 is entirely discretionary. Its discretion transcends all rights, legal or equitable, and enables the Court to make such order as it thinks fit. This means, as I . .
CitedHarwood v Harwood CA 1991
The court rejected the argument that declaring in a transfer of land that the survivor ‘can give a valid receipt for capital money arising on a disposition of the land’ in itself amounts to an express declaration of a beneficial joint tenancy. . .
CitedWhite v White HL 26-Oct-2000
The couple going through the divorce each had substantial farms and wished to continue farming. It had been a long marriage.
Held: Where a division of the assets of a family would satisfy the reasonable needs of either party on an ancillary . .
CitedGoodman v Gallant CA 30-Oct-1985
The court reviewed the conflicting authorities with regard to the creation of trusts and held that the overwhelming preponderance of authority was that, in the absence of any claim for rectification or rescission, provisions in a conveyance . .
CitedDyer v Dyer 27-Nov-1988
Where property is purchased by one person in the name of another there is a presumption that a resulting trust is created: ‘The clear result of all the cases, without a single exception is that the trust of a legal estate, whether freehold, copyhold . .
CitedMalayan Credit Ltd v Jack Chia-MPH Ltd PC 1986
The Board considered whether there were only three situations in which joint owners of property could be found to be tenants in common, and whether there were other circumstances which could lead to a contrary conclusion.
Held: It was . .
Appeal fromStack 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 . .
CitedSpringette 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 . .
CitedHuntingford 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 . .
CitedWestdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington London Borough Council HL 22-May-1996
Simple interest only on rate swap damages
The bank had paid money to the local authority under a contract which turned out to be ultra vires and void. The question was whether, in addition to ordering the repayment of the money to the bank on unjust enrichment principles, the court could . .
CitedRoyal Bank of Scotland v Etridge (No 2); Barclays Bank plc v Harris; Midland Bank plc v Wallace, etc HL 11-Oct-2001
Wives had charged the family homes to secure their husband’s business borrowings, and now resisted possession orders, claiming undue influence.
Held: Undue influence is an equitable protection created to undo the effect of excess influence of . .
CitedUlrich v Ulrich and Felton CA 1968
The parties had married, but bought a house when engaged. She had paid one-sixth of the acquisition cost in cash, and he raised the balance by a mortgage in his name.
Held: It was wrong to treat a mortgage contribution as equivalent to a cash . .

Cited by:
CitedTackaberry and Another v Hollis and others ChD 13-Nov-2007
A house had been purchased in 1982 by one member of a large family. Other family members now disputed whether the land was held in trust for them. A constructive trust was asserted.
Held: The claimants had failed to establish that a . .
CitedPowell and Another v Benney CA 5-Dec-2007
The claimants asserted an interest under a constructive trust in land held by the defendant.
Held: The judge had found acts of detriment suffered by the claimants. Though elements of the judgment might be criticised, the appeal failed. . .
CitedJames 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 . .
CitedFowler 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 . .
CitedSQ v RQ and Another FD 31-Jul-2008
The home in which the family had lived was held in the name of a brother. Each party claimed that it was held in trust for them. Chancery proceedings had been consolidated into these ancillary relief applications. The home had been in the husband’s . .
CitedGibson v Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office CA 12-Jun-2008
The claimant’s husband had been made subject to a criminal confiscation order in the sum of pounds 5.5 million. She now sought to appeal an action against life policies in which she claimed a 50% interest.
Held: Despite the finding that she . .
CitedFrench v Barcham and Another ChD 4-Jul-2008
The court was asked the extent to which a beneficial tenant in common who continues in occupation of a property following the bankruptcy of the other beneficial tenant in common ought to compensate the bankrupt’s estate for that continued . .
CitedElithorn v Poulter and others CA 11-Dec-2008
A house had been bought in joint names, but one owner had died. The deceased had contributed the full price. Her executors said that the couple had intended initially that on the sale of the others property, he would contribute, but this never . .
CitedHSBC Bank Plc v Dyche and Another ChD 18-Nov-2009
The parties disputed the claimed beneficial interest of the second defendant. The second defendant (C) said that it had been purchased for him by the first defendant (D) from C’s trustee in bankruptcy, and was thereafter held in trust for him on the . .
CitedMurphy v Gooch CA 27-Jun-2007
The unmarried parties had sought an order from the court as to their respective interests in their former family home.
Held:The judge had been incorrect to make his decsion based on the principles of equitable accounting. He should have used . .
CitedLarkfield Ltd and Others v Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office and Others CA 12-May-2010
The defendant in criminal proceedings (M) had been found to be beneficial owner of property. The company, its registered proprietor appealed against an order declaring the property to be a realisable asset of M. The respondent had said the . .
CitedHopton 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 . .
CitedKernott v Jones CA 26-May-2010
The unmarried couple bought a property together. Mr K appealed against an award of 90% of the property to his former partner. The court was asked, whether, following Stack v Dowden, it was open to the court to find that the parties had agreed that . .
CitedWilliams 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 . .
CitedJones 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 . .
CitedGow v Grant SC 24-May-2012
The parties had lived together as an unmarried couple, but separated. Mrs Gow applied under the 2006 Act for provision. Mr Grant’s appeal succeeded at the Inner House, and Mrs Gow now herself appealed.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The Act did . .
AppliedAbbott v Abbott PC 26-Jul-2007
(Antigua and Barbuda) The parties disputed the division of the family assets after a divorce. The family home was registered in the sole name of the husband. There being no provision for property adjustment, the court had to decide the division on . .
CitedSingh v Singh and Another ChD 8-Apr-2014
The parties disputed ownership of various valuable properties. The father asserted that they were held under trusts following the Mitakshara Hindu code, under a common intention constructive trust. The son said that properties held in his own name . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Family, Land, Trusts

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.251487