Wall v. Munday [2018] EWHC 879 (Ch)


  • Ms. Munday (‘M’) and Mr. Wall (‘the deceased’)
    married in 1969 and divorced in 1974. In 1972 they purchased a leasehold
    property in Kent for £13,600 (‘the Property’) with the aid of a mortgage of
    £10,000. The leasehold title to the Property was conveyed to them as joint
  • The parties divorced in 1974. M left the
    Property and the deceased continued to live there. No formal steps were taken
    to deal with the ownership of the Property.
  • In 1978, the deceased purchased the freehold to
    the Property. In 1990, he redeemed the mortgage. He died in March 2015. Upon
    his death, M became the sole legal owner of the Property by survivorship.
  • The personal representative of the deceased’s
    estate (‘the claimant’) brought a claim against M, contending that an informal
    settlement had been reached between M and the deceased at the time of their
    divorce, under which M sold to the deceased her 50% interest in the Property,
    so that the deceased was the sole beneficial owner of the Property at the time
    of death.
  • In the alternative, it was argued that there had
    been a severance of the beneficial joint tenancy by mutual dealings and a
    variation of the beneficial interests in the property in favour of the deceased
    by subsequent conduct.
  • The trial judge held that there had been no
    agreement between M and the deceased to sell her interest in the house.
    However, the judge held that the joint tenancy had been severed by reason of
    mutual dealings by the end of 1975. The trial judge held that there had been no
    subsequent common intention to vary the shares in the Property so that M and
    the deceased were still each entitled to half of the beneficial interest in the
  • The claimant appealed. He contended that the
    deceased and M had evidenced an intention to vary their beneficial shares as to
    86% / 14% in the deceased’s favour, and that the judge had incorrectly allowed
    the question of severance to become detached from the question of variation of
    beneficial interests. He argued that under the principles set out by the House
    of Lords in Jones v. Kernott [2011] UKSC 53 the court should
    have considered the whole course of conduct of M and the deceased over the past
    25 years and not just until repayment of the mortgage by the deceased in 1990.

Held, dismissing the appeal

  • The mere fact that the judge referred to matters
    occurring before the repayment of the mortgage did not mean that he did not
    have in mind both the repayment of the mortgage and what happened between then
    and the death of deceased.
  • There was also considerable force in M’s
    counsel’s argument that the lack of communication between M and the deceased
    after the repayment of the mortgage would have likely made it impossible for
    the judge to reach the conclusion that an agreement between the parties to vary
    their beneficial interests was to be inferred.
  • Although the court in giving judgment must give
    reasons for its decisions, those reasons must be read on the assumption that
    the judge knew how to perform the judicial functions on the matters which had
    to be taken into account (citing in approval Piglowska v Piglowski [1999] 1 WLR
    1360, 1372, per Lord Hoffmann).