Burns v Burns [1984] Ch 317

Key point
  • It was held that where a couple cohabits property in the sole name of one, the other can only obtain a beneficial interest in the property by making financial contribution to the purchase of the property or mortgage payments
  • This case is outdated post-Stack v Dowden, where it was held that common intention on shares in the property can be inferred from non-financial contributions
Facts
  • Mr and Mrs Burns were an unmarried couple, whose home was in Mr Burns’s sole name
  • After 18 years together, they split up, and Mrs Burns claimed a beneficial interest in the home
Held (Court of Appeal)
  • The claim failed, on the ground that it was impossible to find the necessary common intention between the parties that Mrs Burns should have such an interest
Waller LJ
  • There was no express common intention between the parties that Mrs Burns should have ben interest
  • Her hope was that a tacit one would be found on the strength of her contributions within the relationship
  • However, she did not make any financial contribution to the purchase of the property or mortgage payment
  • Her financial support to the family and her homemaking and child raising activities could not be regarded as an indirect financial contribution
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