A man who lived with his male partner for 15 years has been awarded a significant share in the couple’s property.
The two men had met in April 1993 and they began living with each other three months later. In 2009, their relationship ended and one partner moved out.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Recorder Davis-White noted that the couple had not been able to marry because gay marriage was not introduced into English law until after their relationship had ended. Similarly civil partnerships were not available until 2005, by which point the two had already been living together for a significant amount of time. However, the men had exchanged ‘commitment rings’ in 1994 and did so again to mark their tenth anniversary. The couple had previously described their relationship as “akin to a marriage”.
Following the couple’s separation, the man who moved out of the house applied for a share of their assets. These included 50 per cent ownership of a few companies the couple ran and a Mercedes car which had been given to him as a gift from his partner and then reclaimed following the breakup. As there is no cohabitation law in England and Wales to govern the division of property following a breakup, the man had to go through the Chancery Division of the High Court, which deals primarily with business law.
Mr Recorder Davis-White ruled that the applicant was entitled to a 50 per cent share in two of the businesses in question because his contribution towards them was “more than minimal” and that one of them had been started as a 50-50 venture. Additionally, the judge was not convinced by the former partner’s claim that the 50 per cent share of one company had been given in order to raise his self-esteem. He also declared that the man had sole ownership of the Mercedes, ruling that the gift was “valid and complete” and “could not be revoked”.
Read the full judgment here.