Failing to make formal arrangements over who should own property is a frequent cause of family disputes.
One such case concerned an industrial unit, which was owned by a businessman who rented it out. He died in 2000 and the title to the property passed to his wife. The couple’s daughter insisted, however, that the property was to have been put in trust for her by her father. She claimed that he had promised this and produced witnesses who said that they knew that it was his intention.
Some years earlier, the businessman and his wife had arranged to have a trust document drafted which contained a declaration of trust in the daughter’s favour, but it was incomplete and never formally executed. Under its terms, the property was to be held in trust until the daughter reached 25 years of age.
Surprisingly, Mr Justice Briggs ruled that the daughter was entitled to have the property and should be registered as the lawful owner.
An appeal against this decision seems very likely.