Family Law Hub

Beneficial Interest

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  • The unmarried couple had been in a relationship from 1995 until 2017. They had two children, aged 14 and 19, and had bought a four-bedroom home in Oxfordshire. Both parties were still residing in the property, although the mother was mostly restricted to a bedroom with an en suite bathroom. She had applied for a declaration under section 14 of ToLATA for declaration of the parties’ respective beneficial entitlement, and an order for sale. The father had made an application under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989 for the applicant’s share of the property to be held on trust for the benefit of the parties’ son until such time as he finished education. One working day before the final hearing, the father conceded that the declaration of beneficial interest should be of 50% shares in the property, leaving the issue of whether the property should be sold, and if so, when. The mother argued for a sale as soon as possible, while the father wished it to be deferred for seven or eight years. HHJ Vincent's impression was that the father did not have a good grasp of the financial implications of the situation and did not like the thought of change, and so had not let himself think about the practical consequences of having to leave the home. HHJ Vincent was also concerned that the younger child's welfare needs were not being met by the current situation. The property would be put on the open market and sold for the best price that could be obtained, although the parties could also consider whether one party might be able to buy out the other’s share. As to costs, the usual order in family cases would be no order as to costs, but this was an application made under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989, and so the unsuccessful party would pay the costs of the successful party. Judgment, 22/06/2020, free
  • The couple used to run a shipping business together, but were now in the midst of a bitter divorce. The wife had obtained a freezing order to prevent the disposal or charging of four vessels operated within that business. Her case was that she and the husband were entitled to beneficial interests in shares in the companies which owned the vessels. The freezing order had been discharged on appeal, and then reinstated pending this appeal by the wife. The appeal was allowed by Males, Moylan and Phillips LJJ and the freezing order would continue, but on the terms set out in the schedule to the judgment, which would allow one of the vessels to be sold, or for vessels to be charged as security for a loan. If nothing had been done, there was a risk that the vessels would have had to be sold for no more than scrap value, which would not have been in the wife's interests. Judgment, 18/06/2020, free
  • This hearing concerned complex and polarised matrimonial financial proceedings between a husband and wife. She contended that an accountant and/or his various companies owned the ships entirely beneficially for the couple, and that those ships, and the charter fees they generated, were assets falling for appropriate division within the matrimonial financial remedy proceedings. Holman J was not satisfied that there was any real evidence of any deviousness on the part of the accountant or his companies, or any intention by them to try to defeat the claims of the wife. If it was right, as the wife asserted, that the ships were owned beneficially for the couple, then it was in her interests that the current structure remained solvent and afloat. Hence there was no sufficient basis for any injunctions to remain in place, and they were discharged. Judgment, 11/05/2020, free
  • The parties had been in dispute about the beneficial ownership of a valuable property. The former husband sought permission to appeal from findings of fact made in contempt of court proceedings. He contended that despite being an unrepresented litigant he had given evidence without being informed of his right to silence. Peter Jackson LJ found that the court could not be satisfied that no injustice had occurred. If the husband had been informed that he was not obliged to give evidence, he might not have done so. This was a procedural irregularity serious enough to justify the granting of permission to appeal, and the appeal should be allowed. Popplewell LJ agreed. Judgment, 17/03/2020, free
  • The husband had been ordered to pay the former wife a lump sum of £20m in full and final settlement of her claims. Eleven years later, not a penny had been paid. A without notice order had been made appointing receivers of shares in a Spanish company, of which the husband had been found to be the beneficial owner. This receivership order was set aside following an application by other parties, and the wife now appealed against the set-aside order. Baker LJ decided that the judge had been wrong to set it aside on the mere assertion by the other parties that they were the owners of relevant shares. A third party could not expect to receive the protection of the court if it wasn't prepared for the rights it claimed to be scrutinised. Arguments on limitation, jurisdiction and estoppel also failed. Moylan LJ and Longmore LJ agreed, and the receivership order was restored, the latter adding that the application to set aside the receivership order had been misconceived from the start. Judgment, 23/12/2019, free

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  • For use in registering joint ownership of property at the time of acquisition Form (external), 15/01/2013, free

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