Graham York v York [2016] 1 FLR 407

Key point
  • When deciding what is fair the court is not concerned with redistributive justice
  • The house of couple was remortgaged. It was registered in husband’s sole name and he bought it
  • When he died the bank sought possession of house after lapse of payment
  • D woman sought to claim a beneficial interest in the house
  • D had endured years of abuse by the man
  • Judge held that:
    • Although man had never suggested to D that she would have interest, she had contributed to the family income at the time of purchase and was entitled to a beneficial share
    • Her financial contribution did not amount to much but she made a contribution by cooking and bring up their daughter
    • D was entitled to 25%
  • D appealed for 50%
Held (Court of Appeal)
  • Appeal dismissed, D only entitled to 25%
Tomlinson LJ
  • The presumption of equal share in cases of joint legal ownership does not apply to sole name cases such as the current case
  • The contention that D contributed as much as she could to the household did not support equal shares
  • In deciding in such a case what shares are fair, the court is not concerned with some form of redistributive justice. Thus it is irrelevant that it may be thought a “fair” outcome for a woman who has endured years of abusive conduct by her partner to be allotted a substantial interest in his property on his death
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