• In the case of Gore and Snell v Carpenter 1990 60 P&CR 456, it was found that although the parties had reached an agreement in principle, each party had reserved their right and open to arguments of other financial agreements and therefore the severance could not have taken place.

Facts of the Case

  • P were the executors of an estate belonging to the husband who committed suicide in 1987.
  • At the time of his death, he and D, his wife, owned two properties as joint tenants.
  • Later the marriage broke down by September 1985 and in November of the same year H and W were living in separate properties.
  • H’s solicitors wrote to W, in July 1986, proposing that the parties should divorce offering to provide a confession statement for a divorce on the ground of adultery and seeking out the proposal for the resolution of the parties’ ensuring claims for financial relief.
  • An agreement was reached in principle that one of the properties should be transferred to H and the other to W, but no concluded agreement was reached.
  • W severed her divorce petition in December 1986, claiming ancillary relief.
  • H refused to serve notices severing their equitable joint tenancies in the properties.
  • After H’s death, P issued proceedings to determine whether H’s interest in the two properties had passed to W through survivorship or to his estate.

Issues in Gore and Snell v Carpenter 1990 60 P&CR 456

  • Did the inconclusive agreement sever the joint tenancy?

Held by Court (Chancery Division)

  • No severance took place.


  • Held that H could not have effected a severance by dealing with his own share in the properties by releasing it to his co-tenant.
  • Severance could only be effected by dealings with a third party.
  • No express agreement to sever the joint tenancies not could severance be shown from a course of dealings between them.