Family Law Hub

Property Interests

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  • The unmarried couple had been in a relationship from 1995 until 2017. They had two children, aged 14 and 19, and had bought a four-bedroom home in Oxfordshire. Both parties were still residing in the property, although the mother was mostly restricted to a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. She had applied for a declaration under section 14 of ToLATA for declaration of the parties’ respective beneficial entitlement, and an order for sale. The father had made an application under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989 for the applicant’s share of the property to be held on trust for the benefit of the parties’ son until such time as he finished education. One working day before the final hearing, the father conceded that the declaration of beneficial interest should be of 50% shares in the property, leaving the issue of whether the property should be sold, and if so, when. The mother argued for a sale as soon as possible, while the father wished it to be deferred for seven or eight years. HHJ Vincent's impression was that the father did not have a good grasp of the financial implications of the situation and did not like the thought of change, and so had not let himself think about the practical consequences of having to leave the home. HHJ Vincent was also concerned that the younger child's welfare needs were not being met by the current situation. The property would be put on the open market and sold for the best price that could be obtained, although the parties could also consider whether one party might be able to buy out the other’s share. As to costs, the usual order in family cases would be no order as to costs, but this was an application made under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989, and so the unsuccessful party would pay the costs of the successful party. Judgment, 22/06/2020, free
  • The couple used to run a shipping business together, but were now in the midst of a bitter divorce. The wife had obtained a freezing order to prevent the disposal or charging of four vessels operated within that business. Her case was that she and the husband were entitled to beneficial interests in shares in the companies which owned the vessels. The freezing order had been discharged on appeal, and then reinstated pending this appeal by the wife. The appeal was allowed by Males, Moylan and Phillips LJJ and the freezing order would continue, but on the terms set out in the schedule to the judgment, which would allow one of the vessels to be sold, or for vessels to be charged as security for a loan. If nothing had been done, there was a risk that the vessels would have had to be sold for no more than scrap value, which would not have been in the wife's interests. Judgment, 18/06/2020, free
  • This hearing concerned complex and polarised matrimonial financial proceedings between a husband and wife. She contended that an accountant and/or his various companies owned the ships entirely beneficially for the couple, and that those ships, and the charter fees they generated, were assets falling for appropriate division within the matrimonial financial remedy proceedings. Holman J was not satisfied that there was any real evidence of any deviousness on the part of the accountant or his companies, or any intention by them to try to defeat the claims of the wife. If it was right, as the wife asserted, that the ships were owned beneficially for the couple, then it was in her interests that the current structure remained solvent and afloat. Hence there was no sufficient basis for any injunctions to remain in place, and they were discharged. Judgment, 11/05/2020, free
  • The unmarried couple had separated and the female partner had moved out of the family home. Their two children were now adults. She sought a sale of the property under TOLATA 1996 on the basis that it had had been purchased for the purpose of providing a family home and that purpose had come to an end. An order was made for the male partner to give up vacant possession of the property, and he was forbidden from interfering with the sale. He was then committed to prison for breaches of those injunctive orders, and now appealed against that sentence. Baker LJ found that none of the grounds or arguments advanced established that the judge had been wrong either in any of her findings or in the sentence passed. The male partner did not accept the validity of the order made in the TOLATA proceedings and believed that he was entitled to disregard it. He would have continued to defy the order if allowed his liberty. Bean LJ agreed, and the appeal was dismissed. Judgment, 24/04/2020, free
  • The parties had been in dispute about the beneficial ownership of a valuable property. The former husband sought permission to appeal from findings of fact made in contempt of court proceedings. He contended that despite being an unrepresented litigant he had given evidence without being informed of his right to silence. Peter Jackson LJ found that the court could not be satisfied that no injustice had occurred. If the husband had been informed that he was not obliged to give evidence, he might not have done so. This was a procedural irregularity serious enough to justify the granting of permission to appeal, and the appeal should be allowed. Popplewell LJ agreed. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free

Latest know-how

Latest training

  • Lynsey Cade-Davies and Amber Sheridan of 29 Bedford Row review current developments in cohabitation law including an update on recent cases, proprietary estoppel after Southwell v Blackburn, the Cohabitation Rights Bill and points to remember when handling cases in the civil courts. Webcast, 16/03/2015, members only
  • Christopher Wagstaffe QC, 29 Bedford Row, addresses three main questions which arise in TLATA claims, quite apart from any Schedule 1 considerations. Webcast, 07/04/2014, members only
  • Watch a recording of the webinar, first broadcast on 14 March 2013. Webcast, 18/03/2013, members only
  • Webcast, 11/01/2012, members only

Latest sources

  • For use in registering joint ownership of property at the time of acquisition Form (external), 15/01/2013, free

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