Q&As

Goodman v Gallant holds that a declaration of trust (DoT) is conclusive as to the parties’ respective beneficial interests (absent fraud or mistake). Are there circumstances where, after an express DoT, the parties may by conduct impliedly or expressly vary the DoT allowing one party to later argue that their beneficial interest is more than as set out in the DoT?

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Produced in partnership with Chris Bryden of 4 King’s Bench Walk
Published on LexisPSL on 05/07/2019

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

  • Goodman v Gallant holds that a declaration of trust (DoT) is conclusive as to the parties’ respective beneficial interests (absent fraud or mistake). Are there circumstances where, after an express DoT, the parties may by conduct impliedly or expressly vary the DoT allowing one party to later argue that their beneficial interest is more than as set out in the DoT?

Goodman v Gallant holds that a declaration of trust (DoT) is conclusive as to the parties’ respective beneficial interests (absent fraud or mistake). Are there circumstances where, after an express DoT, the parties may by conduct impliedly or expressly vary the DoT allowing one party to later argue that their beneficial interest is more than as set out in the DoT?

It is assumed that the co-owners are not married or in a civil partnership.

As well as establishing that when parties sever a beneficial joint tenancy, a tenancy in common in equal shares arises, the case of Goodman v Gallant provides that a deed of trust is conclusive as the beneficial ownership of a property. It is therefore the starting point in disputes over the ownership of joint property, and where there is a declaration of trust, it is likely (absent mistake, undue influence, duress or fraud) that the shares set out therein will be treated as determinative.

However there are some circumstances which will mean that the declaration of trust, whilst still the starting point, does not reflect the beneficial interests of the parties following a change of circumstances and in particular a change of common intention. In Stack v Dowden, Baroness Hale

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