Marr v Collie [2017] UKPC 17

Key points
  • The common intention constructive trust can apply beyond the context of family homes to investment property bought jointly by a cohabiting couple
  • A couple (C and D) bought various properties as investments in joint legal names, although C contributed almost all of the purchase funds
  • When their relationship ended, C sought a declaration that he owned sole beneficial interest in the properties upon presumed resulting trust
  • The Bahamas Court of Appeal held that the presumed resulting trust was rebutted due to clear evidence at the time of purchase C had intended that D should have an equal share in the properties
Held (Privy Council)
  • The intention of the parties were not sufficiently examined by the judge thus the matter should be remitted for a judge to redetermine
Lord Kerr

Scope of common intention constructive trust

  • The common intention constructive trust does not only apply in the “domestic consumer context”
  •  It is entirely conceivable that partners in a relationship would buy, as an investment, property which is conveyed into their joint names with the intention that they shall be joint tenants beneficially, even though they contributed in different shares to the purchase. In such cases the presumed resulting trust does not apply: [49]

A clash of presumptions?

  • There may seem to be two conflicting presumptions when parties contribute unequally to a purchase in joint names:
    • the presumption that a conveyance into joint names indicates a beneficial joint tenancy (the “starting point” under a common intention constructive trust; and
    • the presumption of a resulting trust, under which parties are tenants in common with shares equal to their relative contribution: [53]
  • Unless there is no evidence from which the parties’ intentions, the beneficial interest of the parties is not determined by the triumph of one presumption over another but by the intention of the parties: [55]
  • The intention of the parties may change after the time of purchase: [55]
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