Q&As

A party agreed to transfer a property from their sole name into joint names with their cohabitant, who had made no financial contributions to the property. At that time the sole owner was suffering from depression. The parties separated within a few months and the former cohabitant is now seeking half of the equity in the property. Can such a claim be opposed on the basis of duress? How may the sole ownership of the property be restored?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 27/09/2019

The following Family Q&A Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A party agreed to transfer a property from their sole name into joint names with their cohabitant, who had made no financial contributions to the property. At that time the sole owner was suffering from depression. The parties separated within a few months and the former cohabitant is now seeking half of the equity in the property. Can such a claim be opposed on the basis of duress? How may the sole ownership of the property be restored?

In England and Wales property can be held both as legal owners (in effect the person or persons (up to four) in whose name the property is in) and as beneficial owners (the true owners of the property). The legal owners hold the property on trust for the beneficial owners (who may be the same persons).

In seeking to determine the beneficial ownership of a domestic residential property, the starting point is that the beneficial ownership will reflect the legal ownership (see, generally, Stack v Dowden and Jones v Kernott) and the onus is on the party asserting a different interest to establish it. This is primarily done by asserting a common intention constructive trust: an express, implied, inferred or imputed agreement that the

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