Disputes about ownership

Disputes about the ownership of land, usually a home is my bread and butter. Ownership is more than just whose name is on the ‘deeds’ or the legal paperwork. Ownership is split into two: legal and beneficial. Legal is straightforward and it is usually whose name is on the paperwork. Beneficial ownership is something totally different and is usually where the dispute.

To illustrate, if you have a bank account with money in it for a child, you, as the adult are likely the legal owner. However, the money is not really yours, you are holding it on behalf of that child.

Disputes about the ownership of land usually involve trusts. These can arise in various ways and there are numerous different types of trusts such as: express, implied, constructive, resulting, common intention constructive trust, bare trust and so on.

Trusts are not something that most people are familiar with. However,

Co-ownership and Trusts of Land

Cases include:

M v M

Dispute between a father and son regarding various properties, promissory estoppel, and constructive trusts with an international element. The matter started as a small claim and was transferred to the multi-track. Proceedings were settled after I drafted a Reply to the Amended Defence.


Dispute between former cohabiting couple and whether or not there was a common intention constructive trust.


Dispute between a former couple which included significant analysis of financial statements, taking of an account and occupation rent.


Dispute between former cohabitating couple where it was alleged that there was an engagement which was denied. There was an argument about whether a ‘garden office’ constituted a substantial improvement to the property. The matter was settled in a mediation in which I appeared.

JF v MR and KR

A matter which concerned express declaration of trust between a mother and son with the former girlfriend. Arguments surrounding running an equitable account before the relationship breakdown to take into account significant unmet contributions made by one party.


A dispute about jointly held property and whether an unsigned declaration of trust constituted a ‘settled agreement’ between the parties. Satellite arguments over estoppel and whether there has been detriment. The property was in negative equity the majority of time since purchase.