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 determination in the light of subsequent events. Referring to Walker v Hall, Nourse LJ: ‘It is thus made clear that Dillon and Lawton LJJ were of the opinion that a beneficial interest acquired under an application of the principles stated in Gissing v Gissing can only be an absolute and indefeasible interest. It cannot be one which is liable to determine or to be defeated or diminished – either automatically or by the exercise of some discretion – on the happening of some future event, for example the separation of an unmarried couple who were living together at the time of its acquisition. The validity of that proposition is in my judgment beyond doubt. It must always be remembered that the basis on which the court proceeds is a common intention, usually to be inferred from the conduct of the parties, that the claimant is to have a beneficial interest in the house. In the common case where the intention can be inferred only from the respective contributions, either initial or under a mortgage, to the cost of its acquisition it is held that the house belongs to the parties beneficially in proportions corresponding to those contributions. . . .’ Lord Justice Kerr: ‘. . . once the court had found the existence of a constructive or implied trust whereby the beneficial rights to the property belonged to the parties in whatever shares the court determined, then the necessary consequence was the recognition by the court of rights which are proprietary in their nature and which lie wholly outside the exercise of any discretionary powers. That was made clear, inter alia, in Gissing v Gissing [1971] AC 886.’


Lord Justice Nourse


[1988] Ch 542


England and Wales


CitedWalker 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 . .
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 . .

Cited by:

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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Trusts, Family

Updated: 16 May 2022; Ref: scu.199946