StaRs: Time to prioritise, but not to panic
The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (ToLATA) allows the court to determine the extent of a party’s beneficial interest in land or property generally by seeking to discern the parties’ intentions as to their respective entitlements.
ToLATA is perhaps most often applicable in cases involving unmarried couples who are involved in co-habitation disputes.
We recently advised a client who had jointly purchased a property with his partner and whose relationship had broken down. Our client had secured a significant mortgage on the property and the monies had been paid into his bank account, which he said had subsequently been used to fund the couple’s joint lifestyle. The couple had agreed that the property should be sold but our client’s partner sought to argue that she was entitled to the entirety of the proceeds on the basis that our client had already benefited from his share. It was therefore necessary to demonstrate the couples intentions when purchasing the property and evidence not only that the mortgage monies were used for their joint benefit (or the sole benefit of our client’s partner) but also that our client had paid for significant home improvements at the property and the intention had always been that they have a half share each in the property and the agreement in relation to the mortgage had no bearing on that.
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