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Law Notes Trusts and Equity Notes

Trusts Of The Family Home Notes

Updated Trusts Of The Family Home Notes

Trusts and Equity Notes

Trusts and Equity

Approximately 1016 pages

Equity notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB trusts cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These were the best Equity and Trusts Law notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through dozens of LLB samples from outstanding law students with the highest re...

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Standard situation: A and B move in together, but the home is conveyed into the name of B alone. A and B live together and share living costs. Can A claim to own a share in the home?

  • Not at law, if B is the sole name on the deeds / register.

  • A has to claim in equity. A cannot claim under an express trust of land, unless it is evidenced in writing: s.53(1)(b) LPA 1925. However, s.53(2) says “resulting, constructive or implied trusts” can arise without writing.


s.53(1)(b) LPA 1925: “a declaration of trust respecting any land or any interest therein must be manifested and proved by some writing signed by some person who is able to declare such trust.”

An express trust must be evidenced in writing. The ET should also declare the nature of the beneficial interests and the terms of the trust.

Goodman v Gallant —if the conveyance of legal title declares the beneficial interests, that is conclusive (this only operates if C is a party to the conveyance):

Goodman v Gallant [1986]

  • Facts: W and H had 50% each beneficial interest in the matrimonial home (H held legal title). They split. W and Mr. Gallant purchased H’s 50% share for 6,700 —W contributed to this fee. The purchaser’s declaration of trust stated they held the property as joint tenants. W and G split up and W sought to sever the joint tenancy. W claimed she should have a 75% interest (50% hers to start with, then 50% of the later contribution).

  • Held: W was only entitled to 50% of the beneficial ownership —the express declaration of trust was conclusive to their ownership rights, the extent of contribution was irrelevant.

ss. 34 and 36 LPA: If there is no express declaration, then a statutory trust will be imposed when land is conveyed / transferred to two or more people.


Ideally, people would sort out their property and financial arrangements formally before purchasing a house / moving in to their partner’s property. However, this does not always happen (most arrangements having been agreed informally / not discussed).

Where the relationship ends / mortgage lender tries to take possession of land following mortgage arrears, the courts must decide if the non-legal owner of the house has: (i) any right to the land; (ii) the extent of that right.

If there is no express / statutory trust, to claim a share in the beneficial interest in the land a non-legal owner will need to establish that there was always an intention that she should have such an interest. C may:

  • Ask the Courts to declare him / her as the beneficiary under a RT or CT

  • May try to establish a right in the land through PE.

Cases involve unmarried couples, where property, rather than family, law applies. A common problem is that the legal title is vested in just one of the contributing parties.


There are two principal categories: ‘presumed’ and ‘automatic’ RTs (following Vandervell):

  • Automatic: arise where an express trust fails initially or subsequently. Property is then held by trustee for settlor.

  • Presumed: arise where person voluntarily transfers property for no consideration in return, or contributes to the purchase of property in another’s name. Presumption is that the transfer was not intended as a gift.

Presumption of RT in land

If there is no other evidence of the parties’ intentions, a RT will arise when a person contributes towards the purchase price of land, but legal title is transferred into the name of another.

  • The presumption is that the parties intend that the legal owner holds the land on trust for the benefit of the contributor, in accordance with the proportion given.

  • Clear from s.53(2) LPA 1925 that an RT can arise in the absence of writing.

These are to undo cases of unjust enrichment. Where the transfer for no consideration is one of personality (e.g. money), a rebuttable presumption arises that the transferee holds on RT for the transferor. However, for land, s.60(3) LPA means that a voluntary conveyance of land takes effect as expressed, unless there is evidence of contrary intention —there is no presumption of RT simply because the conveyance isn’t expressly made for the benefit of the recipient.

  • s.60(3) LPA: “a resulting trust for the grantor shall not be implied merely [because] the property is not expressed to be for the benefit of the grantee.”

  • However, RTs still arise when the surrounding circumstances point to them.

Following Lady Hale’s comment in Stack v Dowden that the presumption of a RT is not a rule of law, RTs can be considered of decreased importance. As such, the application of the RT will likely be confined to the commercial context, with CICTs dealing with familial settings.

The operation of the presumption is seen in Dyer v Dyer [1788], where an RT arises when property is purchased by A in the name of B —B holds the property on trust for A (who paid the value): “The trust of a legal estate whether taken in the names of the purchaser and others jointly, or in the names of others without that of the purchaser …, results to a man who advances the purchase money.”

  • The law will generally be cautious of assuming gifts in cases of large sums, though the presumption can be defeated by evidence concerning whether the sum is intended as a gift.

It was confirmed in Hodgson v Marks: if an attempted express trust fails, that seems to me just the occasion for implication of an RT, whether the failure be due to uncertainty, or perpetuity, or lack of form.” Makes clear RTs do not operate differently with respect to land.

Hodgson v Marks [1971]

  • Facts: Mrs. H transfers freehold to her lodger, Mr Evans, for free. H orally tells E that she should still have benefit of the freehold (and she continued to live there), but nothing is put down in writing (oral express trust fails under s.53(1). E transfers the freehold to M, who is registered as the new owner and who mortgages the house.

  • CA: found there was an RT in favour of H. She...

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