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Chan Pui Chun v Leung Kam Ho [2003] 1 P. & C.R. DG2

Constructive Trust – Common Intention – Beneficial Interest - Property

Facts

The complainant had worked with the defendant and a personal relationship had developed with him while he was imprisoned for bribery. The complainant agreed to help him with several property development projects and the defendant promised their marriage and a ‘dream home’. Hill House was purchased in England and the legal title of this property was transferred to a company that was beneficially owned 51 per cent by the complainant and 49 per cent by the defendant. They lived in this property together before their relationship broke down.

Issues

The defendant brought the appeal. He argued that any promises made to the complainant about her ‘dream home’ were too vague during imprisonment to create a beneficial interest in the property purchased. Thus, the issue in the appeal was whether the complainant had a beneficial interest in Hill House.

Held

The appeal was dismissed and Hill House was held on trust for the complainant and the defendant; she had detrimentally relied on that common intention when she left her job and moved to England. The defendant had promised her a share. The judge stated that:

‘As to detriment…a party claiming a beneficial interest in land, either by way of constructive trust or by way of propriety estoppel, must established that he or she has acted to his or her detriment or significantly altered his or her position in reliance on the alleged promise or agreement’ [93].


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