Alternatively, Maria may have an interest under constructive trust. The leading case of Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset highlighted the essential requirements for the imposition of a constructive trust asserting its foundation in the common intention of the parties to share the properties. Lord Bridge further asserted in this case that “intention” could be express or inferred from conduct . In this case, in order to obtain a mortgage, the Defendant had convinced the Claimant to sign a disclaimer on the understanding that they would marry and occupy the property together. In reliance on this, the Claimant had paid ?
12,500 into the Defendant’s bank account and she had spent thousands on improvements to the property. It was held that there was clearly an intention to share the property, which resulted in the property being held on constructive trust. Furthermore, Lord Bridge highlighting the reasoning in Gissing v Gissing asserted the concept of detrimental reliance in order for there to be a constructive trust. A prime example of this is the case of Eves v Eves , where the defendant told the claimant that the only reason the house was being put in his sole name was as she was under 21.
In reliance on this promise, the claimant redecorated the house and undertook significant works to the house. As a result, she was awarded a quarter shares in the proceeds of sale. Notwithstanding the widening interpretations of trust law to accommodate relationship breakdown, the constructive trust is limited by reluctance to acknowledge indirect contribution, which has worked primarily against women in practice . Moreover, the courts’ approach has been positively inconsistent in relation to indirect contributions.
For example, in the case of Hussey v Palmer , the wife had paid for an extension to the house and it was held to constitute a beneficial interest, however the court had great difficulty in deciding whether it was a resulting trust or constructive trust, thereby highlighting the inherent flaw in artificial legal distinctions. Conversely, in the case of Thomas v Fuller-Brown, where the claimant had carried out substantial works to the house registered in her husband’s name, she was held to have not beneficial interest.
However in the case of Burns v Burns , Fox LJ obiter suggested that if a woman makes a substantial contribution even indirectly it could result in an indirect interest, under the common intention constructive trust. The inconsistency in application of the constructive trust suggests the importation of “false” presumptions applied on policy grounds on a case by case basis, undermining legal certainty in implied trusts.