George Edwards and Linda Grant had been seeing each other for a couple of years, and had a child together, when they decided to live together and buy a house. Edwards told Grant that her name would not go onto the legal documents because it would prejudice her pending divorce. The house was brought in the name of Edwards and his brother.
After their relationship broke down, Grant claimed a share in the property on the grounds she had contributed very significantly to the its purchase by means of her contribution to the joint household expenses, housekeeping, feeding and bringing up the children. The judge dismissed her claim and she appealed.
The Court of Appeal held that where an unmarried couple lived in a property held in the name of only one of the parties, the other party could establish an interest if they could demonstrate a common intention that they would share which they had relied upon to their detriment. The Court found that the statement as to why her name was not on the documentation showed the common intention and that she was entitled to a half share in the house.
The decision was a landmark as the courts found that there was an actual common intention between the parties to share ownership of the property, without such an intention being declared formally in writing.
This marked a shift in judicial thinking about the way in which justice should be done to women in this increasingly common situation, not by changing the law, but by interpreting it more equitably and taking into consideration a wider variety of discussions and contributions regarding the household.
The full version of this landmark is written by Joanne Beswick.
Office for National Statistics, ‘Marriage, Cohabitation and Civil Partnerships’ https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships
Office for National Statistics,’Women Shoulder the Responsibility of ‘Unpaid Work” http://visual.ons.gov.uk/the-value-of-your-unpaid-work/
Telegraph Media Group Ltd., ‘Household Chores to be Given Economic Value’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11234123/Household-chores-to-be-given-economic-value.html