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Is this the end of constructive trusts in commercial cases?

The law on constructive trusts has been developed over the years to help cohabiting couples. Claire Stewart reviews the impact of the changes in the commercial world

19 March 2012

The recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in Crossco 4 Unlimited v Jolan Ltd and Others [2011] EWCA Civ 1619 has potential ramifications for disputes in relation to the ownership of commercial property. Does the relevance of constructive trusts to commercial cases survive this decision?

Traditionally, a constructive trust will arise in equity where it would be unconscionable to allow a legal owner of a property to retain the beneficial ownership of it. The law in relation to constructive trusts has developed over the years primarily in relation to issues arising from the separation of unmarried couples.

The Law Commission’s recommendations for a statutory scheme for cohabiting couples have not been taken up and trust law is developing to plug the legislative gap. In Jones v Kernott [2011] UKSC 53, the Supreme Court decided that the presumption that equity follows the law could be rebutted by evidence that the parties’ common intention was differen...

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