The defendant purchased a property in her name for the parties to live in together. The claimant paid the deposit for the purchase and undertook some improvement works on the property but the defendant made all subsequent mortgage repayments. The claimant also prepared a deed which provided that the parties had agreed that the defendant should own the property solely. The claimant later left the property and claimed a constructive trust in his favour alleging that the parties had agreed at the time of purchase that they would have an equal interest in the property. He relied on the payment of the deposit, alleged mortgage payments and the work undertaken on the property as evidence of this. Alternatively, he claimed an implied constructive trust in proportion to the parties’ respective contributions. He also claimed that the deed had been written at a time when he was a patient for the purposes of the Mental Health Act 1983 and so could not be relied upon.

The court found that the defendant had discharged the burden of proving that the effect of the deed had not been vitiated by the claimant’s continuing mental state. The defendant’s evidence as to what was agreed at the time of purchase was preferred to the claimant’s. The claimant’s contributions had not been for the purposes of repayment or improving a property in which he had an interest. They had been made to assist with the parties’ upkeep when they had lived together and out of goodwill to the defendant for providing a home for him and contributing to his living expenses. The claimant had not acquired a beneficial interest in the property.

Griffiths (By his litigation friend the Official Solicitor) v Cork