Springette v Defoe – Case Summary

Springette v Defoe

Court of Appeal

Citations: [1992] 2 FLR 388; [1992] 2 FCR 561.


The parties were a couple. When they met, Springette was a council tenant. Defoe moved into her council home, and subsequently paid half the rent. Years later, they moved into a new council property as joint-lessees. They continued to pay half the rent each.

The council then offered to sell Springette the property. They offered a significant discount (41%) because she had been a council tenant for more than 11 years. However, Springette could not afford the property alone. She initially tried to make a deal with her daughter, but this fell through.

Instead, Springette agreed to buy the property jointly with Defoe. They were registered as joint owners at law. The couple funded the purchase with a mortgage under which they were both liable. Defoe also contributed £180 towards the deposit, while Springette provided the remaining £2,526.35. They paid the mortgage payments equally until they eventually broke up.

The parties agreed that Defoe had a beneficial interest in the property. However, they disputed the exact share. Springette argued she was entitled to 75% under a resulting trust. This reflected the amount she had contributed to the purchase price. Defoe contended that they shared the equitable title equally under a constructive trust.

  1. What were the parties’ respective shares in the property?

The Court of Appeal held that Springette was entitled to a 75% share under a resulting trust. Defoe was entitled to 25%.

This Case is Authority For…

This case predates the decision in Stack v Dowden [2007] UKHL 17. Stack held that where parties share the joint legal title to a family home, they are presumed to hold the equitable title equally as a joint tenancy also. This case therefore contains incorrect statements that specific evidence is required to disapply resulting trust analysis in jointly-owned family home cases.

When looking for a common intention, the courts can only consider objective evidence of the parties’ conduct or discussions. The parties cannot establish a constructive trust on the basis that they shared an uncommunicated, unknown intention.


A discount counts as a contribution towards the purchase price of property for the purposes of determining a person’s interest under a resulting or constructive trust.