Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset [1991] 1 AC 107

Key points
  • This case shows the narrow approach to deducing common intention that focuses solely on financial contributions prior to Stack v Dowden
  • Note that post Stack v Dowden non-financial contributions are relevant to inferring common intention
Facts
  • A house was bought by a man in his sole name for the purpose of cohabitation with his partner, D
  • The man took out a mortgage on the house with C bank
  • C made no financial contribution to either the purchase or refurbishment of the property
  • C bank claimed possession and an order for sale after the man defaulted
  • D argued that she had a beneficial interest in the property that was overriding
Held (House of Lords)
  • The wife did not have an overriding beneficial interest in the property
Lord Bridge

Establishing common intention

  • Common intention that a party is to have a share in a property registered in the sole name of another can be inferred where:
    1. there is an agreement, arrangement or understanding prior to acquisition or exceptionally at some later date, that property is to be shared beneficially; or
    2. there is no evidence to support finding an agreement and the court must rely entirely on the conduct of the parties

Agreement, arrangement or understanding

  • This has to be based on express discussions, no matter how imprecise the terms
  • In such a case only detrimental reliance on the agreement is needed to give rise to constructive trust or proprietary estoppel
  • Grant and Eves fit in here, conduct by the women would not have proven common intention had there not be a prior agreement

Conduct

  • This route will rarely succeed when there is anything less than direct contributions to the purchase price or mortgage by the non-proprietor

Current case

  • The wife’s activities in relation to the refurbishment of the house was insufficient to justify the inference of common intention that wife was to have a share of beneficial interest
  • The monetary value of her work expressed as a contribution to a property worth £70,000 was trifling
  • Neither a common intention that a house is to be renovated as a ‘joint venture’ nor a common intention that the house is to be shared by parents and children as the family home throws any light on the partners’ intentions with respect to the beneficial ownership of the property
Commentary
  • Law Commission in Sharing Homes, A Discussion Paper: Lord Bridge set the hurdle too high for providing a common intention that there was beneficial interest
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