Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Graham York v York 2016 1 FLR 407, it was held that a judge had not erred in quantifying at 25% a woman’s beneficial interest in the property in which she had lived with her partner.
Facts of the Case
- G lived with the deceased (D) for 34 years, from 1975 until his death in 2009 though they never married.
- From 1983 they lived together at the property which was registered in D’s sole name and mortgaged to the building society.
- When D died, the bank sought possession of the house after a lapse of payment.
- G sought to claim a beneficial interest in the house.
- It was held at first instance that although D had never brought up the fact that G should have an interest, she had contributed to the family income at the time of purchase and was entitled to a beneficial share.
- The financial contributions did not amount to much however a contribution of cooking and bringing up their daughter was made. As a result, the judge awarded G a 25% share.
- G appealed this in hope of a 50% share.
Issues in Graham York v York 2016 1 FLR 407
- Could G claim a 50% share without her name on the legal title of the property and without contributing to the purchase price.
Held by Court of Appeal
- Appeal dismissed, 25% share to stay.
- Here, the presumption of equal shares did not apply to sole name cases.
- “The woman’s financial contribution in Webster v Webster was very significantly greater than that which the judge found here, and that combined with a cohabitation of 27 years might apparently have led the judge to find as fair an entitlement in the range of 33% to 40%” 
- The judge in the present case, with the advantage of having heard argument and evidence over five days, regarded her evaluation of a 25% interest as “generous”. The judge directed herself properly as to the approach which she should take to the evaluative exercise. She fell into no legal or analytical error, certainly neither of those identified at paragraph 15 above. I can discern no principled basis upon which this court can regard her evaluation as falling outside the ambit of reasonable decision-making. Had the judge evaluated Miss Graham-York’s interest at, say, 33%, her decision would I consider have been equally unassailable, but for this court now to evaluate the interest in that way would be unprincipled, would rightly be castigated as what is in another context described as “tinkering”, and would simply encourage appeals, raising false expectations and leading to the further erosion of modest estates.