Eves v Eves – Case Summary

Eves v Eves

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1975] 1 WLR 1338; [1975] 3 All ER 768.


The parties were a couple. After the birth of their daughter, they sought a house to live in together. The defendant bought the house in his sole name, funded using the sale of his existing property and a mortgage in his name. The claimant did not contribute to the purchase price. The defendant told the claimant that the house could not be in her joint name because she was under 21. This was a lie.

The house was initially quite dilapidated. The claimant did considerable work to get it into a suitable state. A few years later, the defendant left the claimant for another woman and moved out of the house. The claimant sought a declaration that she was entitled to a share of the equitable title in the house under a constructive trust after the defendant stopped paying child support.

  1. Did the defendant hold the property on constructive trust for the claimant?

The Court of Appeal held for the claimant. The defendant had led the claimant to believe that she would share in the equitable title when he lied about the reason she could not be on the legal title. She had worked on the house to her detriment in reliance on this belief, so a constructive trust arose. The court concluded that she was entitled to 25% of the equitable title under this trust. It postponed any sale order provided the defendant paid off what he owed in child support.

This Case is Authority For…

Labour and effort count as a detriment for the purpose of determining whether a constructive trust has arisen.


This case indicates that the courts treat a lie as to why the claimant cannot be on the legal title as a positive representation that the claimant is entitled to a share of the equitable title. Other cases have treated lies in the same way: see e.g. Rowe v Prance [1999] All ER D 496.