The Family Law Company acted for a former cohabitee, a builder, who had purchased three properties with his former partner. They had been together for some years and had no children.
One of the houses was purchased in the woman’s sole name, but the other two were purchased jointly. Although his former partner put more money into the property purchases, the builder had done a lot of work on all three properties and contributed to the cost of other work. Two of the properties were let to tenants, and the couple lived together at the other property until separation.
The woman claimed that her former partner had no interest in the property she owned and that she was entitled to most of the money on sale of the other two houses. She refused to vacate the home they lived in together. She was granted an order excluding the client from the home ‒ at which point our client dis-instructed his former solicitors and instructed The Family Law Company instead.
Our client claimed that they were each entitled to an equal share in all three properties, so we carefully researched his case and spoke to witnesses. We discovered evidence that the sole-owned house had been place in the woman’s name only as this would save Stamp Duty, but they had agreed it belonged to them both. We also established the full extent of the work carried out by the client and the joint borrowing taken against the jointly-owned properties. This was consistent with his case that they had always agreed to share equally.
The case went to trial and thereafter to appeal. The client’s carefully prepared statement and selected witnesses satisfied the court that his claim was made out ‒ namely that the parties always intended that all three properties belonged to them both in equal shares. The former partner later abandoned her appeal.
Prior to trial, we advised our client to make a ‘Part 36’ offer of settlement to put pressure on his former partner to settle. Such offers are not revealed to the trial judge until after a decision is made. The client followed our advice and at trial, he beat his Part 36 offer, which resulted in the court ordering his former partner to pay all his legal costs, totalling £45,000, in addition to her own. The net result was that his former partner’s interest in all three properties was extinguished enabling him to gain control of them. The former partner was forced to vacate the property that she occupied.