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Bedson v Bedson [1965] 2 Q.B. 666

Joint Tenants – Severance – Entitlement to equitable share

Facts

A husband and wife had three children and lived in the matrimonial home which was a flat above a draper’s shop as joint tenants.  The husband alone owned and ran the draper’s shop, although he paid his wife a weekly wage for her employment in the shop.  After suffering a breakdown in their relationship, the wife left with the children leaving the husband alone in the flat above his shop.  The wife applied to the court for an order for sale and a division of the proceeds in line with their equitable interests in the property.

Issues

Was it possible to sever the joint tenancy of a matrimonial home used as a dwelling?  Should the order for sale be granted and the proceeds split between the husband and wife?

Held

The Court of Appeal held that they would not make an order for sale because to do so would deprive the husband of his business and income.  Whilst the order for a sale was refused, the joint tenancy had clearly been severed, and the resulting form of ownership was instead a beneficial tenancy in common between both the husband and wife.  Where therefore, as happened here, the joint tenancy was severed, they will still be entitled to a proportionate share of the property, dependant on the number of joint tenants.  In this case, because there were two joint tenants upon severance, each was entitled to a half-share in the property.  In terms of recognition of this interest, the husband would pay the wife a weekly sum as a result of her interest in the property.


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