PROPERTY: Fowler v Barron [2008] EWCA Civ 377

23 APR 2008

(Court of Appeal; Waller, Arden and Toulson LJJ; 23 April 2008)

Where a house had been transferred into the joint names of two individuals as their home, without any declaration of trust, the transfer indicated that the parties intended to own the house in equal shares and the onus was on the individual asserting that the property was owned other than in equal shares to show that the parties had a shared intention to own the property in some other shares. The conduct that the court would take into account included, but was not limited to, the financial contributions made towards the acquisition of the property. In determining whether the presumption arising from a transfer into joint names had been rebutted, the court must consider whether the facts were inconsistent with the inference of a common intention to share the property in equal shares, to an extent sufficient to discharge the civil standard of proof on the person seeking to displace the presumption. In this case the man's secret intention that the woman should benefit only in the event of his death was not relevant to the presumption because it was not evidence of the parties' shared intention. Similarly the man's lack of understanding as to the legal effect of putting the property into joint names was not relevant. The warning given in Stack v Dowden [2007] 2 AC 432 about the potential unreliability of evidence concerning beneficial interests after the event was to be borne in mind. The couple's mutual wills threw light on parties' intentions, as there would have been no need for mutual wills unless they had thought that each had a beneficial interest to convey.

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