Jones v Padavatton – Case Summary

Jones v Padavatton

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1969] 1 WLR 328; [1969] 2 All ER 616; (1968) 112 SJ 965; [1969] CLY 519.


The claimant was the defendant’s mother. The claimant made a deal with the defendant. The deal specified that the defendant would give up her employment in the US a move to England with her family to read for the Bar. In exchange, the claimant would provide her £42 a month. The pair later agreed that the claimant would also provide the defendant a house to live in.

The parties’ relationship soured over the fact that the defendant had not completed her studies in five years. The claimant sought possession of the house. The defendant argued that she was entitled to stay and continue to receive the £42 a month. This was because, she claimed, a binding contract had arisen between her and her mother. The claimant responded that she had never intended to be legally bound by the arrangement, so there was no contract.

  1. Did the parties intend to be legally bound by the arrangement?

The Court of Appeal held in favour of the claimant. They parties were presumed not to have intended to be legally bound. The defendant had not provided sufficient evidence to rebut this presumption. The defendant therefore had no right to remain, no right to the £42 and no defence against the possession claim.

This Case is Authority For…

Parties in a domestic or familial relationship are presumed not to intend to be legally bound by their arrangements. It is possible to rebut this presumption.


Salmon LJ disagreed with the majority on intention, but reached the same result by different means. He thought that the fact that the defendant would be left destitute in a foreign country was strong evidence that the parties did intend the agreement to pay £42 to be legally binding, and enough to rebut the presumption.

However, Salmon LJ thought that there was an implied term in the contract that the defendant would complete her studies in a reasonable time. Since she had not done so, the claimant was entitled to terminate the contract for breach. He also agreed with the majority that the subsequent agreement about the house was too vague to have been made with contractual intent.