Smith v Spencer Bottomley (2013)Facts:The parties met in 1990 and began cohabiting in 1992. They became engaged but not married. They had a child in 1994. Company was incorporated in 2002. In 2002, the couple purchased a family home in joint names and a declaration of trust is entered into how the property is held. Relationship ended and property is sold in 2007.
Ms. Smith sought an equal share of 50% on the basis that Mr. Bottomley had promised her that he would share all his assets w/ her equally and that she had suffered detriment in reliance upon the promise. The family house is owned by the company. Decision:Sales J allowed Bottomley’s appeal, Bottomley wins. Detrimental reliance was a “critical element of the claim to a beneficial interest in the properties in question…by way of constructive trust”Ms Smith’s claim…depended completely on the express promise made by her by Mr. Bottomley, and that on the facts, “no inference could be drawn from the parties’ conduct of any wider common intention to share property”. One of the major reason is, whatever equitable claim arose against Bottomley as a result of the assurances given by him, it could not carry through and convert into an equitable claim against the company as a distinct legal person. Q: If there is a “common intention”, common meaning w/ a consensus between the parties, no matter actual or inferred or impute, then why do they still dispute?Law Commission: Sharing homes a discussion paper (2002)*There is no final proposal reform suggested in this paper, it is quite not possible to devise a statutory scheme for the ascertainment and quantification of beneficial interests in the shared home which can operate fairly and evenly across the diversity of domestic circumstances which are now to be encountered*The problem:Sometimes a home is purchased and no express arrangements of this kind are made. Or a home owner invites someone to live w/ them, w/ no discussion at all about the potential legal implications or no formal agreements entered into. Over a period, the person may have substantial contributions, so thequestion will be - Whether they have obtained a share in the home?The current law:Where a legal title is held in the sole name of one person, and no matter whether the other made contribution, if the formal legal position is to prevail, it would lead to manifest injustice. A person who is not a legal owner of a shared home will only be able to claim an interest in the home in certain, limited circumstances. oAn equity arising by proprietary estoppelWhere a person is encouraged or allowed to believe by an owner of land that he or she has certain rights in or over it. That person then acts to his or her detriment in reliance on this belief. If it is unconscionable for the owner to deny the claimant the rights in question, the court may grant relief to give effect to the expectation which has been engendered. The relief may or may not compromise the grant of an interest in property
- Fall '15
- Wills and trusts, Trust law, Concurrent estate, Account of profits, common intention