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Could the Court be about to drastically alter unmarried couples rights?

View profile for Andrew Leakey
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In May last year I blogged about the case of Kernott v Jones after the Court of Appeal overturned an earlier High Court decision and awarded Mr Kernott half of the property in which he has previously resided with Ms Jones. Now the case is before the Supreme Court and should they overturn the decision of the Court of Appeal the landscape could change again.
 
The parties had purchased a property and agreed that it was to be held jointly. The parties’ relationship had ended and Ms Jones had remained in the property for over 12 years after the parties had split. Mr Kernott had moved on with his life purchasing another property but returned sometime later to claim his interest in the previous family home.
 
In the meantime, Ms Jones had paid all outgoings on the property with no assistance from Mr Kernott. He had not so much as provided any maintenance for the parties’ children and he had bought himself another property which he had been able to fund because of his lack of contribution towards the previous family home.
 
In the County Court and subsequently on appeal to the High Court it had been found that Ms Jones held a 90% interest and Mr Kernott 10%. It had been agreed that had Mr Kernott brought his claim immediately after the parties separated then he would be entitled to a 50% share. The argument was that due to the way that the property had been dealt with over the following 12 years the position had changed and Ms Jones was entitled to a greater share.
 
The previous findings were overturned by the Court of Appeal. They found that there was nothing in the facts that meant the previous Judge could infer that the parties intentions had changed from an equal share.
 
Now the matter has been heard by the Supreme Court and judgment is expected to be handed down in the next few weeks. Watch this space…..
 
However, regardless of the outcome, this case only serves to reinforce that you should give consideration to what is to happen with any property in which you consider you have, or will have, a right and then record any agreement. If you can’t agree following a split then put the matter before the Courts as delaying only creates a bigger problem.
 
By consumer solicitor, Gareth Jones
 

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