Finding common intention and detrimental reliance—Curran v Collins

Finding common intention and detrimental reliance—Curran v Collins

When will the court find a common intention and detrimental reliance in constructive trust cases? Emma Knight of 13 Old Square Chambers says the recent ruling in Curran v Collins is a reminder that claimants need to produce evidence capable of establishing detrimental reliance.

Original news

Curran v Collins [2015] EWCA Civ 404, [2015] All ER (D) 01 (May)

The parties’ relationship broke down and the defendant excluded the claimant from a residential property. He denied that she had any claim to any of the three properties in which they had spent time together. In each case, the defendant had bought the property in his sole name. He also denied that the claimant had a half share in a business. The claimant brought proceedings, claiming that there was an agreement or understanding that she should have a half share in the properties. Her claim was dismissed. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, dismissed the claimant’s appeal on its facts.

What was the background to the case?

P and B were in a relationship for over 30 years, during which period they spent time together in various residential properties registered in the sole name of B (the properties) and lived together for eight years. A kennels business was run from one the properties (the business) and, from 1994, the parties bred Airedale terriers (the dogs).

In about 1986, B declined to register P as joint proprietor of one of the properties on the basis that it would be too expensive to have to pay for an additional life insurance policy (the excuse). In 1992, B made a will leaving his estate to P on his death (the will).

At trial, P’s claim for a share in the dogs was undisputed, however, B successfully defended P’s claim for a share in the properties and the business following the judge’s findings that:

  • P had not ‘really’ worked in the business as a partner or otherwise
  • P had

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