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England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions >> Bradbury & Ors v Taylor & Anor  EWCA Civ 1208 (04 October 2012)
Cite as:  EWCA Civ 1208
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ON APPEAL FROM THE PLYMOUTH COUNTY COURT
HIS HONOUR JEREMY GRIGGS
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE RICHARDS
LORD JUSTICE ELIAS
| (1) GARIELLE BRADBURY
(2) PETER GEORGE LOCKWOOD BRADBURY
(3) COLIN JOSEPH HUNTER
|- and -
|(1) ROGER TAYLOR
(2) DENISE BURKINSHAW
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Alexander Learmonth (instructed by Foot Anstey LLP ) for the respondents
Hearing date: 17 July 2012
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Lloyd:
It would be as well to write out the terms of my offer to you to live here.
You would have the use of the E part of this house as I have told you: to the S hall door on the ground floor & to the door on the corridor on the 1st floor. I would expect some give & take until the division is complete. You would also have the use of the 14 acre garden. You would pay no rent but would cover your own expenses eg telephone food heating and half the rates, and insurance, half security costs. It would be understood that that the property & any of the furniture etc would be properly cared for. I would expect help with maintenance. The only condition, otherwise, that I made would be that you would be solvent & fully able, at all times, to meet these financial commitments & that you should be in possession of a reasonable income from at least some of the several business ventures you are involved with at present.
I did not expect any thanks (nor did I get any!): instead I was given a number of conditions including decorating the kitchen, gutting the bathroom, signing a contract that I should not change my mind & guaranteeing that no one should be allowed to contest your occupancy when I am dead.
suggestionsor rather conditions concerning the alterations should be made as proposals for discussion when you are here. If you were paying rent, say £150 per week, there would be need for a contract. As it is there will be no contract, as this is a friendly arrangement.
My offer (I have not changed my mind) still stands.
"Initially, I invited you to live here, rent-free, in a different environment, in a not unpleasant house and garden; and should you accept it would be occasional company for me and the occupation of an unused part of the house. That is all it was: no undercurrents or hidden messages. That it has turned sour has caused me some distress and uncertainty for you."
"His partner Denise was a more impressive witness, calm and measured in her answers in cross-examination, although in her case too I was less than impressed with her evidence about gifts said to have been made to her and other members of the family by Bill which only surfaced after Bill's death. That evidence was not something with which I am directly concerned – it was accepted that it only went to credit."
"28. … Having made the decision, at that stage still a revocable one, to leave them the property in his will, and having included in the will a number of conditions by which he sought to ensure that the property would be maintained in what he regarded as an appropriate fashion, he was keen to put in place the necessary arrangements. I find that he was keen that Roger and Denise should move to the property but was aware that he had to be subtle in his approach. He never spoke to both Roger and Denise about it together. I am entirely satisfied that he wished to do enough to entice them to come and live there. He was alive to the point Denise made to him that if they were to live together in the property it would not work … He therefore put forward the proposal of the property being split between them, so that they could live there independent from him, and vice versa.
29. Bill was all too aware of Denise's reluctance to move. I find that he did put some pressure upon her to do so. It was in his interest, as he himself accepted, to have others living there in order to increase security there. I accept Denise's evidence that she understood that it was a condition of them moving there that they should continue to reside there for seven years after his death, as a result of him having said as much to her when he first mooted with her the suggestion of the property being left to them. I reject the suggestion that she became aware of that suggestion as a result of looking through his papers. Denise just did not strike me as the sort of individual who would act in that way. I accept her account that she did not do so.
30. I find therefore that there were representations by Bill to Denise and to Roger that the property would be left to them if they were to move from Sheffield and move into one half of the property with him being in the other half. They may not have been express representations but they were sufficiently clearly understood by both Roger and Denise and, as I find, they were intended to be so understood by Bill as meaning that if they moved from Sheffield to Lower Manaton in Cornwall and made their contribution as he had spelled out orally but confirmed in the letter dated 23 July 2001 he would leave the property to them in his will. I am satisfied that Denise was persuaded to move to Cornwall by the representations made to her by Bill. She wanted assurances and I am satisfied that she was given them: the letter of 23 July 2001, when Bill said that his offer still stands and he had not changed his mind I interpret as such an assurance. I find that the copy letter which was in evidence was a contemporary document and not something written ex post facto to justify his assertion that there was no representation that they would be left the property. Although Roger denied ever having seen that letter or anything like it at the time, I am quite satisfied that it represented what [Bill] was saying to Roger at the time, and through Roger to Denise. It matters not whether Bill actually sent them such a letter, although on balance I am inclined to the view that he did. I am wholly unpersuaded that the effect of the letter or any equivalent oral representations that Bill made at the time had the effect of reserving for him the right to dispose of his estate as he saw fit. Any reservations which he may have had he kept to himself. I am quite satisfied that he was keen to have Roger, Denise and their family living in the house at Lower Manaton and that he knew that they realised that if they accepted his offer of living there it was on the basis that he would in due course leave the property to them on his death."
"I do not need to make findings about the value of Roger's personal contribution as I am satisfied that the work done and the expenditure incurred was on a sufficient scale as to amount to detrimental reliance, regardless of its precise cost or value."
"The context in which Bill enticed Roger and Denise to move to Cornwall when Denise had been reluctant to do so because of the strength of her family ties which inevitably would be severed by such a move satisfies me that the representations in this case were sufficient to give rise to a proprietary estoppel."
"37. In my judgment this is not a case in which I should engage in an exercise of seeking to evaluate the various benefits and detriments suffered. Apart from the difficulty in pursuing such a task in this case other than in the most general way, it seems to me that it would be artificial in the extreme. I am satisfied that there was a bargain, albeit, as Bill himself categorised it, a non-contractual bargain: it was a family arrangement which was going to involve give and take on both sides. It was acted on by both sides for a number of years and both sides derived significant benefits from it. As I have already indicated there is a dispute as to the cost and the value of the works carried out at the property by Roger. Bill had the benefit of knowing that there was someone present in the house even though he continued to live an independent existence for as long as he was able. I have not referred, save in passing, to the art lectures which he gave at the property on a regular basis over a number of years. He clearly enjoyed being able to pursue this activity which was really only made possible by the presence of Roger and Denise in the property. The attendees at the lectures and at the social receptions afterwards may well primarily have been friends of Roger and Denise but a cross-evaluation of the respective benefits and detriments for both sides would be quite impossible.
38. I have already found that Bill did make a representation to the Defendants that if they moved to the property with their family he would leave it to them in his will, provided various conditions were met. In my judgment Roger and Denise fulfilled their side of the bargain by moving, by being present at the property, by looking after it and maintaining and restoring the fabric of it to a very considerable extent, as well as providing succour and support to him from time to time. I find that this is precisely the sort of case envisaged by Robert Walker LJ in Jennings v Rice at paragraph 45 of his judgment where the expected benefit and the expected detriment were in general and in an imprecise way equivalent, or at any rate not obviously disproportionate, and in the circumstances I propose to find that the Defendants are entitled to receive the property Lower Manaton absolutely"
though subject to bearing the inheritance tax attributable to the value of the property.
"The learned judge erred in that, having found that Bill did not give the items set out in the Schedule to Denise, he treated this as a mere issue of credit."
Lord Justice Richards
Lord Justice Elias