Facts and Judgment
Adekunle v Ritchie  2 P & CR DG 20
Adassa Ritchie purchased her council
house under the right to buy scheme with the assistance of her son, Richard
Richie. The property was valued at £12,150 and the discount came to £6,196.
Adassa was unable to obtain a mortgage on her own due to her age and finances.
Richard agreed to be party to the mortgage. The house was conveyed to them
jointly and the mortgage was taken out in joint names and each contributed
equally to the instalments. No declaration was made relating to entitlement of the
beneficial interest. Richard later married and he and his wife stayed in the
property for some time, however, they later moved out when Adassa and his wife
fell out. He did return to the property when his marriage broke down. Adassa
fell ill and died intestate leaving ten children. Jennifer Adekulne, Richard’s
sister, as admistrator of the estate sought a declaration that Richard held no
beneficial interest and that the house be sold and the proceeds distributed
between the ten children.
Richard Ritchie was entitled to one third
of the beneficial interest.
that Baroness Hale (In Stack Dowden) primarily had in mind cohabiting couples
living together in either a platonic or sexual relationship; however she does
not limit her approach to those cases. This case relates to a domestic
relationship between mother and son and in my view is to be decided in
accordance with the new approach. It may well be, however, that where one is
not dealing with the situation of a couple living together it will be easier to
find that the facts are unusual in the sense that they are not to be taken to
have intended a beneficial joint tenancy.
I turn then to consider the factors mentioned by Baroness Hale in
paragraph 69 of her opinion. The context of the acquisition of the property is
very different from that of the normal cohabiting couple. The parties' finances
were separate. Adassa Ritchie had 9 other children. She was on good terms with
them. There is no reason to believe that she would have wanted the whole of her
estate to pass to her youngest son, Richard Ritchie.
When I take these factors into account I have come
to the conclusion that this, too, is a very unusual case. In my view the
conclusions in paragraph 92 of Baroness Hale's judgment are just as apt to this
situation as they were in Stack v Dowden. They are all strongly indicative that
the parties did not intend their shares in the property to be equal.”
Back to lecture
outline on constructive
trusts in land law