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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

04 OCT 2010

PROPERTY: Dibble v Pfluger [2010] EWCA Civ 1005

(Court of Appeal; Ward, Lloyd and Pitchford LJJ; 3 September 2010)

The cohabitants were engaged but never got married and lived in the woman's substantial property. When the property needed renovation, the woman transferred it into their joint names, charged with a £25,000 mortgage.  The deed of trust stated that the beneficial interest was held two thirds by the woman and one third, less mortgage, by the man. The man sold his property and provided a written agreement that he would pay the mortgage repayments. The agreement expressed to terminate when the parties agreed mutually to cease to live together in which event the agreement set out detailed provisions for the disposition of the home. The woman's parents gave her land in Poland on which a home was built. The man contributed money towards the building costs of the Polish home. The original English property was sold and a smaller English property was purchased as tenants in common in equal shares.

The couple separated a few months after they moved to the Polish property. The woman sought an order for sale of the English property on basis of equal division of sale proceeds. The man claimed beneficial interest in Polish property, pleading express agreement and/or common intention evidenced by his payments. The recorder concluded that the man had no interest in Polish property. The man appealed. 

Appeal allowed and re-hearing ordered. The recorder had not considered Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, s 2 concerning property of engaged couples. Payments towards the purchase/building of a Polish property could indicate a common intention that the defendant would have an interest in the property and it behoved the Recorder to explain why he could not find an inferred or imputed intention to create an interest in the land if such payments had been made.


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