The parties purchased a house in their joint names. The purchase was funded by the sale of their previous property which had been in D’s sole name, plus D’s savings and a mortgage in both names. S paid the mortgage interest and endowment policy premiums, and they both paid off the capital with D contributing a greater proportion. The parties had cohabited for a long time and had children together, but nearly all aspects of their finances were kept separate. The relationship ended and S sought a declaration that the house was held on trust by the couple as tenants in common, in equal shares and an order for sale. The issue was whether a conveyance into joint names established a prima facie case of joint and equal beneficial interests.

The House of Lords held that the starting point where there was joint legal ownership was joint beneficial ownership. Instances where joint legal owners would be taken to have intended that this was not the case, would be unusual. The onus was on the party seeking to show that the parties intended their beneficial interests to be different from their legal interests, and in what way. Each case would turn on its own facts. Many more factors than financial contributions could be relevant to intention. It was for D to show what the common intention was when they bought the property. The fact that they had kept their financial affairs rigidly separate for such a long time was strongly indicative that they did not intend their shares to be equal. D made good her claim for a higher share.

Stack v Dowden