Question Al and Bel, who had just got married, bought a house in ...

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Al and Bel, who had just got married, bought a house in 2010 which was to be their matrimonial home. The house, which was bought with the aid of a building society mortgage, was conveyed to Al and Bel as joint tenants. In late 2012, Al found out that Bel had been having an affair with their neighbour, Cain. Al and Bel had a big row which ended in Bel leaving and Al changing all the locks on the property. The following day, Al contacted his solicitor, and made a will leaving any property that he might own at the time of his death to ‘my nieces Dee and Elkie in equal shares.’ Bel has been living with Cain ever since. Three months ago, Al began divorce proceedings against Bel. As part of the proposed settlement, Bel offered to sell Al her share of the matrimonial home for £150,000. Al refused to accept this offer, claiming that Bel’s price was too high. By this point, Bel was pregnant with Cain’s child and was keen for a quick divorce so that she could marry Cain. She therefore lowered the asking price to £100,000. Al said that he would accept Bel’s offer, subject to the price being confirmed by an independent valuer when Al returned from his skiing holiday. Sadly, whilst on holiday, Al died in a horrible accident on the slopes.
Trace the legal and equitable ownership of the house, advising Dee, Elkie and Bel as to its ownership following Al’s death. Give reasons for your answers, referring to decided cases.

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This question required a careful consideration of the structures of co-ownership (joint tenancies and tenancies in common), with a particular emphasis on the operation of the rules of severance, both at the outset to displace a presumption of equitable joint tenancy (where the four unities are present) and, once created, to turn an existing joint tenancy into a tenancy in common. It was the second least popular question, perhaps demonstrating that few students engaged with the material well, as it was taught towards the end of the module. Candidates must have explained the difference between JT (all treated as one to outside world) and TC (have separate shares). Important to know if severance has taken place, because, otherwise under the right of survivorship, A has nothing to leave in his will to D and E, as his share is automatically subsumed within B’s on his death. 2010 – must be JT at law (LPA s.1(6)) and no reason to suggest not JT in equity either. So A and B hold house as JT at law on trust of land for themselves as JT in equity. Does anything happen to sever the JT in equity (only possible in equity) under s.36 of LPA? An answer needed to go through the different ways in which severance can take place either under the ‘new’ method in s.36 or the old methods established in Williams v Hensman. Acting upon one’s share The clearest method of severance is to alienate (sell or otherwise dispose of) one’s own interest to a stranger or, indeed, another joint tenant. This must occur inter vivos (i.e. be a lifetime dealing) and cannot, therefore, be effected by a will. The act must be final and binding which means that there must generally be a valid contract/written transfer dealing with the land. Mutual agreement of the joint tenants The joint tenants can all act together and effectively agree to sever their joint tenancy. This is more informal than acting on one’s share and does not need a valid contract or writing. It must, however, be such that it shows a common intention to sever. The parties must have reached a definite understanding and a fixed mutual attitude to sever: Slater v Slater (1987). For example, if the joint tenants agree that, on death, their shares will pass to their next of kin this will be a severing event: McDonald v Morley (1940). Similarly, if the joint tenants agree that, on sale, the proceeds should be divided (whether equally or unequally) a tenancy in common will immediately arise: Burgess v Rawnsley (1975). Mutual conduct of all existing joint tenants This covers any course of dealing which intimates that the interests of all joint tenants were mutually regarded as having been severed. The conduct must fall short of an express or implied agreement, but must show an unambiguous, common intention to sever: Greenfield v Greenfield (1979). For example, where the co-owners execute mutual wills it is not the wills themselves which sever (severance cannot be effected by will); but rather the intention which underlies them shows the decision to sever: Re Wilford’s Estate (1879). It is not entirely clear whether inconclusive negotiations in relation to disposing of the co-owners’ respective shares will operate to sever the joint tenancy. The better view is that such negotiations will not have this effect: Harris v Goddard (1983). Late 2012 – B left and A changed locks. Severance? No. A makes will leaving property to D and E. Severance? No. A begins divorce proceedings. Severance? No. Agreement to sell but no sale – is this enough to sever by mutual agreement? Maybe. If concluded there is severance that D and E own A’s share after his death so then B holds legal title on trust of land for A (half), D (quarter) and E (quarter) all as TCs. If no severance, A is the absolute owner (union in sole owner) so no co-ownership any more.

This is just a practice on how to do the coursework. In the question attachment there is the additional feedback.

Write 2000 words.

1) introduction

Brief explanation of the facts issues

2) the law regulating the Issues such as definition

3) application on the law to the facts issues such as the law and Les.

4) critical analysis on whether the law is right on certain issues or needs debate

5) conclusion

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Case Scenario Response

Facts in the Case

Al and Bel, who had just got married, bought a house in 2010 which was to be their matrimonial home. The house, which was bought with the aid of a building society mortgage, was conveyed to Al and Bel as joint tenants. In late 2012, Al found out that Bel had been having an affair with their neighbour, Cain. Al and Bel had a big row which ended in Bel leaving and Al changing all the locks on the property.
The following day, Al contacted his solicitor, and made a will leaving any property that he might own at the time of his death to ‘my nieces Dee and Elkie in equal shares.’ Bel has been living with Cain ever since. Three months ago, Al began divorce proceedings against Bel. As part of the proposed settlement, Bel offered to sell Al her share of the matrimonial home for £150,000.

Al refused to accept this offer, claiming that Bel’s price was too high. By this point, Bel was pregnant with Cain’s child and was keen for a quick divorce so that she could marry Cain. She, therefore, lowered the asking price to £100,000. Al said that he would accept Bel’s offer, subject to the price being confirmed by an independent valuer when Al returned from his skiing holiday.

Sadly, whilst on holiday, Al died in a horrible accident on the slopes. Trace the legal and equitable ownership of the house, advising Dee, Elkie and Bel as to its ownership following Al’s death....

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