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Paul v Constance [1977] 1 WLR 527  Court of Appeal

Mr Constance was married to the defendant. He left his wife in 1965 and later met the claimant and moved in with her in 1967. He never divorced his first wife. In 1973 Mr Constance received £950 in relation to a personal injury claim from his employer. He discussed what to do with the money with the claimant and decided to open a bank account. As they were not married the bank advised him to open the account in his own name but assured him that the claimant would be able to draw on the account if she had a signed note from him. Mr Constance had told the claimant that the money was as much hers as it was his. There were three further deposits into the account which came from the couple's bingo winnings which they played as a joint venture. The was one withdrawal from the account of £150 which was used to buy Christmas presents and food. Mr Constance died intestate in 1974 and his wife as administratrix of his estate closed the account and claimed the sums contained in the account formed part of his estate. The claimant argued that the sums contained in the account were held on trust for the benefit of her and Mr Constance jointly.
There was an express declaration of trust and the claimant was entitled to the money in the account.
Lord Justice Scarman:
    "When one bears in mind the unsophisticated character of the deceased and his relationship with the plaintiff during the last few years or his life, the words that he did use on more than one occasion, "This money is as much yours as mine," convey clearly a present declaration that the existing fund was as much the plaintiff's as his own."

    Back to lecture outline on Express trusts in Land Law