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Gissing v Gissing [1971] AC 886 House of Lords

 
 
Mr & Mrs Gissing divorced after 31 years of marriage. The legal title of the matrimonial home vested in Mr Gissing alone. Mrs Gissing claimed to be entitled to half of the beneficial interest. The purchase price of £2,695 was provided by a mortgage of £2,150, a loan of £500 taken out by the husband and the remainder came from his own money. Mrs Gissing provided £220 towards furniture and laying a lawn. Mr Gissing paid the mortgage installments and loan installments. He also gave Mrs Gissing an allowance to pay for the running costs of the house. They had separate bank accounts. She used her money to purchase clothes for herself and their child and some household expenses.
 
Held:
 
Mr Gissing held the house absolutely. Mrs Gissing had no beneficial interest in the property. There was no evidence of a common intention that she was to share in the beneficial interest of the house. Her contributions were not sufficient to infer a common intention. 
 
 
Lord Diplock:
 
 

    "A resulting, implied or constructive trust—and it is unnecessary for present purposes to distinguish between these three classes of trust—is created by a transaction between the trustee and the cestui qui trust in connection with the acquisition by the trustee of a legal estate in land, whenever the trustee has so conducted himself that it would be inequitable to allow him to deny to the cestui qui trust a beneficial interest in the land acquired. And he will be held so to have conducted himself if by his words or conduct he has induced the cestui qui trust to act to his own detriment in the reasonable belief that by so acting he was acquiring a beneficial interest in the land...

    On what then is the wife's claim based? In 1951 when the house was purchased she spent about £190 on buying furniture and a cooker and refrigerator for it. She also paid about £30 for improving the lawn. As furniture and household durables are depreciating assets whereas houses have turned out to be appreciating assets it may be that she would have been wise to have devoted her savings to acquiring an interest in the freehold ; but this may not have been so apparent in 1951 as it has now become. The court is not entitled to infer a common intention to this effect from the mere fact that she provided chattels for joint use in the new matrimonial home; and there is nothing else in the conduct of the parties at the time of the purchase or thereafter which supports such an inference. There is no suggestion that the wife's efforts or her earnings made it possible for the husband to raise the initial loan or the mortgage or that her relieving her husband from the expense of buying clothing for herself and for their son was undertaken in order to enable him the better to meet the mortgage instalments or to repay the loan. The picture presented by the evidence is one of husband and wife retaining their separate proprietary interests in property whether real or personal purchased with their separate savings and is inconsistent with any common intention at the time of the purchase of the matrimonial home that the wife who neither then nor thereafter contributed anything to its purchase price or assumed any liability for it, should nevertheless be entitled to a beneficial interest in it."

     

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