The Court of Appeal has dismissed a woman’s appeal against a finding that her ex-partner does have an interest in a home held in her sole name.
O’Kelly v Davies concerned an unmarried couple who jointly purchased a property and lived there for a period of time. A number of years later, however, the property was transferred to the woman’s name only. After 15 years, the woman sold the entire property to the man and bought another property with the proceeds. Meanwhile, the first home was rented and the couple began renovation work on the second home, living in other rented accommodation while this was carried out. Once this was completed, they lived together in the new home for several more years, a property also in her sole name, before finally going their separate ways.
The man subsequently issued proceedings under Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules in relation to the second home. Such claims are often made when the person is seeking a declaration of their rights or in relation to a particular contract.
Sitting in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Pitchford noted the conclusions of the original judge regarding the couple’s motivation in placing both homes in her sole name.
“In the course of the evidence it emerged that the appellant had been claiming Social Security benefits as a single woman, and later as a single mother, living alone.”
He therefore held that the couple had been motivated by a desire to claim benefits on that basis. Prior to the transfer of ownership, the man had paid the mortgage on the first home and the couple had both intended him to have an active interest in the property.
This joint intention also applied to the second home, the judge ruled. It had replaced the first as the family’s residence and he still paid most of the mortgage payments on the property, as well as other expenses. Consequently, the judge concluded, the woman had effectively held the second property on trust for her former partner, and he held an equal interest in the property.
The woman unsuccessfully appealed. The first judge had been correct in his reasoning, Lord Justice Pitchford declared. The behaviour of both parties had clearly demonstrated a clear intention for both parties to have an equal share in the property.
Read O’Kelly v Davies here.
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