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Family Law

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26 JUL 2007

PROPERTY: Abbott v Abbott (Privy Council Appeal No 142 of 2005)

(Privy Council; 26 July 2007; Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell and Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury)

The law had moved on since the dictum of Lord Bridge of Harwich in Lloyd's Bank plc v Rossett [1991] 1 AC 107 to the effect that it was doubtful that a constructive trust could be established without direct contributions to the purchase price. As noted in Stack v Dowden [2007] UKHL 17 the main issue was ascertaining the parties' shared intentions with respect to the property in the light of their whole course of conduct in relation to it. If a parent gave financial assistance to a newly married couple to acquire their matrimonial home, the usual inference was that it was intended as a gift to both of them; furthermore the couples had organised their finances entirely jointly and were jointly liable for repayment of the mortgage. The husband held the house in trust for both husband and wife in equal shares.

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