Harris v Goddard [1983] 3 All ER 242

Key point

  • A notice in writing of a desire to sever is served pursuant to s36(2) LPA 1925 must evince an intention to bring about the wanted result immediately to be effective

Facts

  • Wife petitioned for divorce, writing to the court requesting for an order under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 ‘that such order may be made by way of transfer of property and/or settlement in respect of the former matrimonial home’
  • Her husband was killed in an accident
  • Question arose whether the petition had severed the joint tenancy

Held (Court of Appeal)

  • The joint tenancy was not severed

Lawton LJ

  • When a notice in writing of a desire to sever is served pursuant to s36(2) LPA 1925, it must evince an intention to bring about the wanted result immediately
  • A desire to bring about the result sometime in the future is not a notice in writing within s36(2)
  • The prayer to petition (the claim for relief) does no more than invite the court to consider at some future time whether to exercise its jurisdiction or to do so in one of 3 different ways
  • Agreed with judgement in Re Draper

Commentary

  • The current case can be distinguished from Re Draper on the ground that there is no intention to immediately sever here