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   Home      Midland Bank v Cooke
 
Midland Bank v Cooke [1995] 2 FLR 995  Court of Appeal
 
The matrimonial home was conveyed into the sole name of Mr Cooke. The purchase price of £8,500 was funded by a mortgage of £6,450 taken out in the name of Mr Cooke (Mrs Cooke was a student at the time and had no income) £1,000 of the purchase price came from a wedding gift from Mr Cooke's parents to both of them the remainder was provided out of Mr Cooke's savings. Mrs Cooke later worked as a teacher but did not directly contribute to the mortgage payments. She did discharge many of the house hold bills. She also had undertaken substantial improvements, alterations and decoration of the house. Mr Cooke later re-mortgaged the house to secure his business debts. The bank asked Mrs Cooke to sign a consent form postponing any interest that she held to the bank. Mr Cooke failed to keep up with the payments and the bank sought possession of the property. Mrs Cooke claimed to be entitled to a beneficial interest in the property and claimed that she had signed the consent form under undue influence. The trial judge held that Mrs Cooke had a beneficial interest in the property amounting to 6.47% and the consent form had been obtained by undue influence. Mrs Cooke appealed contending that the trial judge had been wrong on the quantification of her interest.
 
Held:
 
Mrs Cooke was entitled to 50% of the beneficial interest.
 
 
Lord Justice Waite:
 
"I would therefore hold that positive evidence that the parties neither discussed nor intended any agreement as to the proportions of their beneficial interest does not preclude the court, on general equitable principles, from inferring one" 
 

"The general principle to be derived from Gissing v Gissing and Grant v Edwards can in my judgment be summarised in this way. When the court is proceeding, in cases like the present where the partner without legal title has successfully asserted an equitable interest through direct contribution, to determine (in the absence of express evidence of intention) what proportions the parties must be assumed to have intended for their beneficial ownership, the duty of the judge is to undertake a survey of the whole course of dealing between the parties relevant to their ownership and occupation of the property and their sharing of its burdens and advantages. That scrutiny will not confine itself to the limited range of acts of direct contribution of the sort that are needed to found a beneficial interest in the first place. It will take into consideration all conduct which throws light on the question what shares were intended. Only if that search proves inconclusive does the court fall back on the maxim that "equality is equity"."


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