Curley v Parkes – Case Summary

Curley v Parkes

Court of Appeal

Citations: [2004] EWCA Civ 1515; [2005] 1 P & CR DG15.


Parkes and Curley were a couple. They decided to live together in 1999. Parkes sold her home and bought a house for this purpose, which was registered in her sole name and subject to a mortgage in her name only. After moving into the property, the couple set up a joint bank account and both contributed to it. Parkes used money from this account to pay the mortgage.

In 2001, Curley’s employer offered him a relocation package. Under the package, the employer would pay lawyer’s fees, removal fees, and any increased mortgage costs if Curley moved to a new area. Curley accepted. The employer bought Parkes’ existing property, and Parkes then bought a more expensive property in the new area. Once again, she was the sole owner and mortgagor. Curley did not contribute to the purchase price. Later, he put money into Parkes’ account to compensate her for paying the deposit. He also continued putting money into the joint account.

When the couple broke up, Curley claimed that he was entitled to an interest in the property. Specifically, he argued that he had a 50% share. The High Court held that Curley was not entitled to anything because no constructive trust arose on the facts. Curley appealed, arguing that the judge should have nevertheless found that a resulting trust arose because he had contributed to the purchase price.

  1. What counts as a contribution to the purchase price for the purposes of resulting trust?
  2. Was Curley entitled to a beneficial share of the property?

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The money Curley paid to compensate Parkes for the deposit did not give rise to a resulting trust because it was paid after the purchase. The same was true of the employer’s contributions. Curley therefore failed to contribute to the purchase price. Accordingly, there was no presumption of resulting trust.

This Case is Authority For…

Only payments to the purchase price, or equivalent contributions (such as a discount) made at the time of the purchase are relevant to the presumption of resulting trust. Payments made later are not relevant.

Payment of legal fees, stamp duty or removal fees are not part of the purchase price of property for the purposes of deciding whether the presumption of resulting trust arises. They are too ancillary.


Curley did not rely on his contributions to the mortgage as establishing a resulting trust. Gibson LJ stated, obiter, that this was correct:

‘the resulting trust of a property purchased in the name of another, in the absence of contrary intention, arises once and for all at the date on which the property is acquired.’

Therefore, monies contributed later on could not be relevant to whether a resulting trust arose.