Curran v Collins [2015] EWCA Civ 404

Key point
  • The mere fact that there is a ‘specious excuse’ does not usually lead to an interference that the person getting the excuse has a beneficial interest
  • The man D purchased a series of properties in his sole name for cohabitation with C
  • The woman (C) claimed beneficial interest in one of the properties
  • Regarding another property D made an excuse to not register C’s name as “it would have been too expensive” due to insurance premia
Held (Court of Appeal)
  • D held sole beneficial interest
Arden LJ

Proving a constructive trust: [2]

  • C bore the burden in proving that she had a share, pursuant to Grant v Edwards, she had to show that
    • She reasonably believed that the parties’ common intention, to be deduced from the whole course of their conduct in relation to the properties, was that she was to have a share of the properties
    • She acted to her detriment on the basis of that common intention

Requirements are not met: [3]

  • D had repeatedly told C the property was his alone, this is sufficient to negate any reasonable belief in any common intention
  • There was no detrimental reliance on the excuse, C had made no direct or indirect financial contributions

In relation to the excuse

  • It is well established that the meaning of words in the context of shared intention is to be deduced objectively, citing Jones v Kernott: [34]
  • Given that the parties were not living together and the absence of significant contribution by C, the judge was right to hold that the reasonable interpretation of the excuse was that C was not to have a share: [41] – [42]
Lewison LJ

Distinguishing the current case from Eves v Eves and Grant v Edwards

  • In those cases the couples purchased the properties for cohabitation and a positive representation was made that the claimant’s name would have been registered on the title but for the excuse: [70] – [72]
  • Both facts are not present here: C had no intention of moving into the property and no positive representation was made: [73]
  • These cases do not establish the proposition that the mere giving of a “specious excuse” necessarily or even usually leads to an inference that the person to whom the excuse is given can reasonably regard herself as having a share in the property: [74]
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