Eves v Eves [1975] 1 WLR 1338

Key point
  • An objective intention to grant a beneficial interest in a family home can be inferred from a false excuse despite opposing subjective intent
  • An unmarried couple had a daughter and bought a house registered under the man (D)’s sole name using his funds
  • D had made an excuse to the woman (C) that he would have put her name down if she was 21 years old
  • C did much of the work to refurbish the house
  • Later D told C he was going to marry another woman which he did after leaving the house
  • C sought to claim a share in the house
Held (Court of Appeal)
  • The law will impute or impose a constructive trust by which D was to hold the property in trust for both himself and C
  • C was to have ¼ beneficial interest in the property
Lord Denning MR

Principle of constructive or resulting trust

  • There is a principle that whenever two parties by their joint efforts acquire property to be used for their joint benefit, the courts may impose or impute a constructive or resulting trust under which legal owner is bound to hold the property on trust for them both
  • The principle applies in the current case despite C making no financial contributions

Specious excuse

  • There was an objective intention that the property was to be for their joint benefit
  • D cannot say the contrary even though he never actually intended to put the property in joint names, he should be judged by what he told her and what he led her to believe and not by his own intent which he kept to himself
  • D’s conduct amounted to a recognition that C was entitled to a fair share of the house, her fair share being determined by what she was doing for him and their child
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