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Nigel and Fiona are in love and decide to live together without getting married. They want to run a business and live on the premises. In 2000, Nigel and Fiona are able to buy a building, which has a shop and living accommodation, for £200,000. As Nigel is going to run the business, he insists that the legal estate is registered in his name.

Nigel has no savings, but Fiona is able to provide £25,000 towards the purchase price. Her father, Alfred, provides £100,000 as an investment, because he wants a stake in the business. Nigel is able to raise the remaining £75,000 on a mortgage, which is in his name. Fiona and Alfred ask Nigel to declare a trust of land, in writing, so that their “shares” are protected. Nigel refuses and says that it is not necessary to have anything in writing as he accepts that they all have a share in the building. However, they never discuss what the size of those shares are.

Fiona works very hard in the business and does not object when Nigel borrows money to help run the business, using their home as security. She and Nigel have two children, whom she looks after with no help from him. Nor does Nigel carry out any other household tasks, which are all left to Fiona.

In 2017, Nigel and Fiona separate. The mortgage has been paid and the building is now worth £400,000. Nigel claims that, as only he holds the legal estate, the building belongs to him. Fiona and her father think that they have a claim to shares in the equitable interest of the building.

Advise Fiona and Alfred upon whether they have any claim to the family home and upon how the court might calculate the size of the shares.
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