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(Queen's Bench Division, Admiralty Court; Aikens J; 8 February 2007)
The cohabiting couple owned a property in the woman's sole name, and a boat in the man's sole name. They agreed to sell the first boat, and buy another more expensive boat, also registered in the man's name. The woman, who earned more than the man, had contributed the bulk of the money to these purchases, taking out an additional loan of £73,000 for the more expensive boat. After the separation of the couple, the sale of the property merely covered the accumulated debts. The woman claimed that the man held the boat on trust for her absolutely. The man claimed that the intention had been that the woman would own the property, while he would own the boat.
There had been no agreement, arrangement, or understanding as to the beneficial interests of the two parties in the property at the time of purchase. On the basis of the man's contribution to the purchase price of the property, and the man's work on the property, the woman held the property on constructive trust on behalf of the man, who had a beneficial interest of somewhere between 25% and 40%. The couple had reached an understanding by the time the first boat was purchased, effectively that the woman was buying out the man's beneficial interest in the property by taking out a loan to buy the boat registered in the man's name. However, the woman's contribution to the purchase of the second boat established a resulting trust in favour of the woman, to the extent of the additional sum she had provided to buy the second boat, about 55% of the purchase price.
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