Valuing a share in a house after a legal dispute outside marriage
Valuing a share in a house after a legal dispute outside marriage can be complicated because the court first needs to find as a fact that there was an agreement to create an interest in the house under a trust that is not reflected in the legal title at the Land Registry. Northwich solicitors Stonehewer Moss recommend that efforts are made to at least agree the valuation of the share even if you cannot agree the factual dispute that there was such an agreement. The Cheshire family law specialists offer collaborative law as an option outside of Court and can refer cases to mediation. Michael Brennan is the accredited family law solicitor at the firm and considers efforts to narrow the issues to the basic factual dispute can help reduce the cost of court disputes for cohabitants, as the relatively self contained process developed for divorce is not available. Michael says,” There is no access to the divorce courts if you have no marriage certificate, regardless of your relationship being as long if not longer than many marriages. The divorce court can distribute assets. The civil court is not on the face of it allowed to adjust ownership but reading the latest appeal called Sandhu v Sandhu 2016 certainly indicates the court has a degree of latitude once it has established there is a trust interest. I set out an extract from Sandhu that refers to the leading authorities but seems to warn that a one size fits all approach is mistaken. Civil claims involve costs orders against the loser and uncertainty creates higher legal bills, so negotiating what the interest should be if the court finds against you may be a sensible if uncomfortable precaution.”
The Judgment in Sandhu provides “The judge directed herself by reference to the decision of the Supreme Court Jones v Kernott. She said that since the evidence did not show what particular shares were intended, she had to consider all the evidence as to the whole course of dealing between Bill and his father in relation to the property, including the financial contributions, in arriving at a fair result. No criticism is made by either side of the judge’s legal approach on this appeal. I would add that the exercise is not a rigidly arithmetical one: see, for example, per Baroness Hale of Richmond in Stack v Dowden “
Valuing a share in a house after a legal dispute outside marriage is best approached out of court to resolve as much of the case as does not require a finding on the facts by the Court.
Tags: cohabitation disputes