• In the case of Grant v Edwards [1986] Ch 638, it was found that where there is a poor or fallacious excuse to not register your partner on the property title, they will have a beneficial interest in the property concerned.

Facts of Grant v Edwards [1986] Ch 638

  • C and D moved in together with their children from previous marriages
  • The D had told the C her name should not be included on the title as it would cause prejudice against her in the divorce proceedings she had ongoing with her husband
  • Whilst the D paid the deposit and mortgage instalments, the C made substantial contributions to the household expenses
  • The pair separated many years later, and the C claimed a beneficial interest in the home
  • The judge dismissed her claim, so she appealed to the Court of Appeal

Issues in Grant v Edwards [1986] Ch 638

  • The C lived with the D, and paid towards the household expenses. She was under the impression that home was as much hers as it was the D’s, is this enough to give her a beneficial interest in the home?

Held by the Court of Appeal

  • Appeal allowed, the C had a beneficial interest in the home and was entitled to 50%. 

Lord Justice Nourse

A constructive trust arises by looking at the conduct of the parties, deciding it would be unconscionable to leave one without a beneficial interest

  • “In most of these cases the fundamental, and invariably the most difficult, question is to decide whether there was the necessary common intention, being something which can only be inferred from the conduct of the parties, almost always from the expenditure incurred by them respectively.” [647]
  • “a distinction is to be made between conduct from which the common intention can be inferred on the one hand and conduct which amounts to an acting upon it on the other.” [648]

Having a look at the facts, Lord Justice Nourse believed the D could not go without the contributions made by the C – they were of significance, and could be seen as indirect payment towards the house

  • “From the above facts and figures it is in my view an inevitable inference that the very substantial contribution which the plaintiff made out of her earnings after August 1972 to the housekeeping and to the feeding and to the bringing up of the children enabled the defendant to keep down the instalments payable under both mortgages out of his own income and, moreover, that he could not have done that if he had had to bear the whole of the other expenses as well.” [649]
  • “In the circumstances, it seems that it may properly be inferred that the plaintiff did make substantial indirect contributions to the instalments payable under both mortgages.” [650]

Therefore, the C “did act to her detriment on the faith of the common intention between her and the defendant that she was to have some sort of proprietary interest in the house.” [650]