username

password

1 Garden CourtCoram ChambersDNA LegalHind CourtGarden Courtimage of 4 Paper Buildings logoHarcourt Chamberssite by Zehuti

Home > Judgments > 2008 archive

Webster v Webster [2008] EWHC 31 (Ch)

Application by mother for declaration of beneficial interests in a house and some shares on the basis of survivorship and under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

The applicant was the deceased’s long time partner, since 1977, and mother of two of his children. The deceased had died intestate. She was claiming a beneficial interest in the family home, though it was in the deceased’s name, and some shares of the company that her partner worked for which had been purchased using a mortgage on the home. She claimed to have contributed to mortgage payments and improvements to the home. It was accepted that the applicant had received £148,000 in benefits since her partner’s death.

HHJ Behrens reviews the facts of the case, noting that the applicant’s evidence was based on events of 20 to 30 years ago, and the approach to be taken under both the principle of Stack v Dowden and the Inheritance Act. He concludes that the applicant did not have a beneficial interest in the property nor in the shares because there was a lack of any common intention. However the intestacy did not provide sufficiently for the applicant under the Inheritance Act and so the home was transferred to her mortgage free so as to facilitate a clean break.

___________

Neutral Citation Number: [2008] EWHC 31 (Ch)
IN THE SCARBOROUGH COUNTY COURT CASE NO: 8SZ 00045
Sitting in Leeds

BEFORE:
HIS HONOUR JUDGE BEHRENS

13th January 2009
B E T W E E N:

ANGELA WEBSTER (Claimant)

AND

(1) DALE LLOYD WEBSTER
(2) JOHN ANTHONY WEBSTER
(3) PAUL RICHARD WEBSTER
(4) DONNA LOUISE ATKINSON
(5) DEAN MICHAEL WEBSTER (Defendant)
-----------------

Miss Sarah Greenan (instructed by Thorpe & Co, Scarborough) appeared for the Claimant
Mr Simon Stevenson (instructed by Hethertons, York) appeared for the Second and Third Defendants
Mr Richard Creasey of Bedwell Watts, Scarborough, appeared for the First Defendant
-------------

JUDGMENT
1. Introduction
1. This is an unfortunate family dispute. It arises out of the death of John Webster who died intestate on 17th December 2004. The Claimant is the long standing partner, cohabitee and mother of 2 of his children. She seeks declarations that two of the principal assets in the estate  - that is to say  property known as 57 Stepney Road, Scarborough and 4,000 ordinary shares in MKM Building Supplies (Scarborough) Limited were held by John Webster on trust for himself and Angela Webster as beneficial joint tenants. She accordingly contends that she is entitled to those assets by virtue of the doctrine of survivorship. In so far as the claims do not succeed she claims reasonable maintenance under the provisions of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975

2. The Defendants are the 5 children of John Webster. The Second, Third and Fourth Defendants – now aged 36, 34 and 31 are the children of his first and only wife – Christine Watson. The First and Fifth Defendant (now aged 30 and 28) are the two children of Angela Webster with whom he cohabited between 1977 and the date of his death.

3. Dale Webster is also the administrator of John Webster’s estate and has taken a neutral attitude to his mother’s claims. The Second, Third and Fourth Defendant accept that Angela Webster may have acquired some interest in 57 Stepney Road, Scarborough as a result of a constructive trust. They do not accept that it was a beneficial joint tenancy. They do not accept that she acquired an interest in the MKM shares. They do accept that Angela Webster is eligible to make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 and that the effect of an intestacy does not objectively make reasonable provision for her (on the assumption that he primary claim fails). They accordingly contend that Angela Webster should be entitled to a half share in 57 Stepney Road, Scarborough together with a life interest in the other half share. Following the death of John Webster Angela Webster received some £148,500 in benefits. They contend that when this is taken into account no further award is either reasonable or appropriate.

2. Representation
4. Angela Webster was represented by Miss Sarah Greenan instructed by Thorpe & Co of Scarborough. The Administrator was represented by Mr Creasey of Bedwell Watts & Co of Scarborough. The 2nd to 4th Defendants were represented by Mr Simon Stevenson instructed by Hethertons of York.

5. I am grateful to Counsel for their skeleton arguments in a by no means straightforward case.

3. Evidence
6. The parties were anxious that the matter to be dealt with at this hearing In the light of the amounts in dispute and the diminishing value of the estate I could well understand why. It is however right that I should comment at the outset:

1. That there was no formal claim in the pleadings by Angela Webster for the declarations that she sought as her primary case. The pleaded case was on the basis that the 2 assets formed part of the estate and that Angela Webster was maintaining a claim under the Inheritance Act for them. Miss Greenan made the point that it had always been made clear in correspondence and in negotiations that Angela Webster was indeed claiming ownership of the two assets. In the event Mr Stevenson was prepared to deal with the case on the basis of the claims for the declarations.
2. That Paul Webster’s witness statement in opposition was only filed 7 days before the trial. It contained a number of allegations which were not – in the event – pursued. On the basis that those allegations were not pursued Miss Greenan was willing for the witness statement to be admitted.
3. Angela Webster’s case depended to a large extent on her evidence on events that took place between 20 and 30 years ago. Little or no documentary evidence was provided in relation to those events. In particular I was not provided with the conveyancing file in relation to any of the conveyancing transactions she referred to. I was not provided with any evidence of substantial sums of money that Angela Webster alleges were spent on 57 Stepney Road, Scarborough over the last 3 or 4 years. It has to be remembered that John Webster is dead and not in a position to give his version of events. I am accordingly being asked to find for Angela Webster largely on the basis of uncorroborated evidence of events over 20 years ago where the other party to the transaction is dead. Plainly a considerable degree of caution is required.

4. The Facts
7. Angela Webster was born on 25th February 1954 and is thus 54 years old. John Webster was born on 31st August 1949 and was thus 54 when he died. Angela Webster and John Webster met in 1970 and became friends. John Webster married Christine Watson in 1972. They had 3 children (the 2nd to 4th Defendants). According to Paul Webster he was told by Christine Watson that his father was a serial womaniser. They lived at 22 Rothbury Street, Scarborough. According to Angela Webster this property was vested in their joint names. In any event they finally separated in 1977 by which time Angela Webster was pregnant with Dale Webster.

8. Angela Webster started to cohabit with John Webster in early 1978 when she moved into 22 Rothbury Street. Following the break up John Webster purchased Christine Watson’s interest in Rothbury Street. Angela Webster was vague about the amounts involved. At one stage she said that Rothbury Street was valued at £7,000. She said that there was a re-mortgage and Rothbury Street was transferred into John Webster’s sole name. All of the mortgage instalments were paid by John Webster.

9. In 1980 22 Rothbury Street Scarborough was sold and 82 Gordon Street was purchased. Angela Webster believed that the sale price was around £7,000 and the purchase price was about £9,000. The mortgage was for £7,000. The property was conveyed into the sole name of John Webster. Angela Webster does not believe she had independent legal advice at the time. She believes that she signed a document of waiver in favour of the mortgagee but cannot now remember precisely what she signed. All of the mortgage instalments were paid by John Webster.

10. Both Angela Webster and John Webster worked throughout the relationship. Angela Webster had short periods of time off work when her 2 children were born. Otherwise she worked. She had a variety of jobs including cleaning and bar work. She even did some disco work with John Webster. At one time they took in students. She agreed that John Webster’s earnings were greater than hers. Indeed towards the end of the relationship they were significantly greater than hers. John Webster was (in circumstances described below) a director of MKM and earning over £44,000 net in salary and dividends whereas Angela Webster was earning about £13,000 net as a manager of a care home.

11. They each had separate bank accounts into which their respective earnings were paid. John Webster paid the mortgage and Angela Webster paid for furnishings, service bills and children’s clothes and food. In evidence she agreed that John Webster may have made some contributions to these items. In any event at some time they both had access to each other’s cash and credit cards. Angela Webster did however accept that she made more use of John Webster’s cards than he did of hers.

12. At the time of the acquisition of 82 Gordon Street there were no express discussions as to the beneficial ownership. There was no express agreement that Angela Webster would have an interest in it. On the other hand she told me that she was party to the discussions both in terms of selecting the property and whether or not the purchase was affordable. According to Angela Webster despite the absence of discussion there was an understanding that the acquisition was joint. Angela Webster made the point that in the early 1980s men liked to have properties in their own names.

13. In 1987 John Webster sold 82 Gordon Street, Scarborough and purchased 57 Stepney Road, Scarborough. The price of 57 Stepney Road was £31,000. Angela Webster believes that 82 Gordon Street was sold for £17,000. There was a mortgage of £25,000. The property was placed in the sole name of John Webster. John Webster made all of the mortgage payments. Angela Webster described her involvement in similar terms to her involvement in the purchase of 82 Gordon Street. There were no express discussions that she should have an interest. However she was involved in the selection of the property and whether it was affordable. Indeed she said that it was she who made the bid or tender that secured the property. She again said that the parties regarded the properties as joint.

14. In 1997 John Webster was working as a sales representative for MKM Building Supplies (Scarborough) Limited He was given the opportunity to become a director but had to invest £4,000 in order to acquire shares in the Company. As a result he re-mortgaged 57 Stepney Road and raised £7,000. £4,000 was used to acquire the shares. The remaining £3,000 was used to pay for improvements to 57 Stepney Road. According to Angela Webster it paid fro a new kitchen.

15. The investment in the Company was very successful. As already noted at the time of his death John Webster was receiving a salary of £24,000 per annum net and receiving dividends of £20,000 per annum. Angela Webster said that together they enjoyed a good lifestyle. She said they went on 2 foreign holidays a year and frequently ate out. Sometimes this was at charity events when John Webster was representing the Company. At other times it was paid for out of their resources.

16. Although Angela Webster and John Webster plainly cohabited for a long period (27 years) Paul Webster suggests that there were problems with the relationship. He suggests that his father was “a womaniser” and that he had a number of girl friends. Angela Webster accepts that John Webster was unfaithful on one occasion with a girl called Alison Mitchell. When she found out about it she insisted that John Webster left. John Webster went to cohabit with Alison Mitchell for a period of about 3 weeks after which he ended the relationship and resumed cohabitation with Angela Webster. Angela Webster was unaware of any other incidents of infidelity. Paul Webster suggested that the affair with Alison Mitchell lasted rather longer than 3 weeks. He also suggested (without giving details) that there were other girls involved.

17. Neither Angela Webster nor John Webster made a Will. According to Angela Webster they spoke about making wills along the lines that each would leave everything to each other leaving the survivor to make gifts to the children. However they took no steps to implement these discussions. They did not consult solicitors about it.

18. Regrettably John Webster died after a sudden cardiac arrest on 17th December 2004. Angela Webster has continued living at 57 Stepney Road since his death paying all outgoings including the mortgage. She has continued to work as the Manager at a Care Home. Shortly after John Webster’s death in February 2005 she received 2 lump sum payments totalling £148,500.

19. Angela Webster has produced two statements setting out her financial resources and needs – one dated 18th January 2008 and the other dated 5th January 2009.

20. In her first witness statement she stated her monthly income was £1,282.67 per month and her expenditure (not including holidays, the hairdresser or entertainment) was £1,785.46 per month. Out of the monthly expenditure was a mortgage payment of £351 per month. Her savings at that time comprised £30,000 in a reserve account at Nat West and 2 ISA’s then valued at £17,000.

21. In her recent witness statement she states that her monthly income has increased slightly to £1,300.57 per month. Her expenses now total £1,747.91 including small sums paid in respect of John Webster’s parents. Her savings have reduced to £16,000 together with the 2 ISAS which have reduced in value to £12,000.

22. Angela Webster was cross-examined as to what had happened to the £148,500 she received in February 2005. As already noted she was not able to produce any documents in relation to it. However she has plainly made mortgage payments of about £350 per month for about 4 years. That comes to about £17,000. Even though the house is in John Webster’s name she said that she had spent some £30,000 on 57 Stepney Road. She described this as 2 new floors on the ground floor, a fireplace, a new TV and washing machine. She was not able to provide any other details of where the money had gone. It emerged during the course of the hearing that Angela Webster’s costs of these proceedings were of the order of £18,000. Some of this sum has been paid by her. Angela Webster simply said that she used this money as a second source of funds over to supplement her income. She was asked if she had invested in a wine bar but denied this. Her employment will not provide her with a private pension though she will be entitled to the state pension in due course.

23. The shares in the Company were valued for probate in the sum of £65,000. However on 21st December 2007 the Directors offered the estate £200,000 for John Webster’s minority interest in the Company. The offer lapsed on 31st January 2008. The offer set out in detail the basis on which the offer was made. More recently on 6th January 2009 the Directors have made a new reduced offer of £100,000 which will remain open till 31st January 2009. It has not yet been accepted.

24. There have been a number of statements setting out the value of the estate at various times. It is not necessary to refer to them all. A summary of the position can be seen from the following table.

Assets

 

Liabilities

 

Costs

 

Property

160000

Mortgage

11730.79

Claimant

18000

Bank

19494.64

Income Tax

4000

Executor

7300

MKM

100000

CGT

6000

 

17500

Administration

1890

279494.64

23620.79

42800

25. A number of points can be made about these figures:

1. 57 Stepney Road was valued at £200,000 but the value has fallen as a result of the current fall in property prices.
2. Angela Webster’s payments have resulted in a substantial reduction in the amount due under the mortgage to Halifax. As at 19th May 2005 there was £21,869.15 due to Halifax. Thus her payments have reduced the capital outstanding by just over £10,000.
3. No one wants the property sold. If the offer by the Directors is accepted the total assets apart from the property amount to £119,494.64. If the mortgage is not discharged immediately but all of the costs are paid out of the estate the total liabilities to be met by the estate (apart from the mortgage) amount to £54,690. Thus there would be about £64,804.64 (subject to further costs) available for distribution.

26. The persons entitled under an intestacy are the 5 children of John Webster. They are all over 18, all working and not suffering from any disability. None have filed any evidence of means or any special need.

5. Beneficial interest
5.1. The Law
27. The modern approach in addressing the question of beneficial interest in a domestic context where the property is vested in joint names is contained in the speech of Baroness Hale in Stack v Dowden [2007] UKHL 17. It may be summarised:

1) The beneficial ownership of the property should follow the legal ownership.
2) If one party claims that the beneficial ownership is different from the legal ownership, then he or she must substantiate that claim by reference to what the parties intended.
3) However, it will be only in “very unusual” circumstances that the beneficial interests in the property will be found to be different from the legal interests.
4) In determining the parties’ intentions, the court may consider a wide range of factors.

28. In paragraph 66 of her judgment Baroness Hale pointed out some differences between sole and joint names cases:

There are differences between sole and joint names cases when trying to divine the common intentions or understanding between the parties. I know of no case in which a sole legal owner (there being no declaration of trust) has been held to hold the property on a beneficial joint tenancy. But a court may well hold that joint legal owners (there being no declaration of trust) are also beneficial joint tenants. Another difference is that it will almost always have been a conscious decision to put the house into joint names. Even if the parties have not executed the transfer, they will usually, if not invariably, have executed the contract which precedes it. Committing oneself to spend large sums of money on a place to live is not normally done by accident or without giving it a moment's thought.

29. It is to be noted that Miss Greenan’s submissions in this case are trying to set a precedent. In particular she submits that this is a sole legal owner case where there is to be inferred a beneficial joint tenancy. She made the point that there are very few reported decisions where the person in whose name the property was vested has died with the result that the question of whether there was a beneficial joint tenancy or tenancy in common did not arise. There is some force in that point.

30. In Oxley v Hiscock [2004] EWCA Civ 546: [2005] Fam 211 at paragraph 68 Chadwick LJ summarised the correct approach in cases such as this:

… the first question is whether there is evidence from which to infer a common intention, communicated by each to the other, that each shall have a beneficial share in the property. In many such cases- of which the present is an example- there will have been some discussion between the parties at the time of the purchase which provides the answer to that question. Those are cases with the first of Lord Bridge’s categories in Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset. In other cases- where the evidence is that the matter was not discussed at all- an affirmative answer will readily be inferred from the fact that each has made a financial contribution. These are cases within Lord Bridge’s second category. And, if the answer to the first question is that there was a common intention, communicated to each other, that each should have a beneficial share in the property, then the party who does not become the legal owner will be held to have acted to his or her detriment in making a financial contribution to the purchase in reliance on the common intention.

31. In James v Thomas [2007] EWCA Civ 1212 a sole legal owner case decided after Stack v Dowden, Sir John Chadwick (as he had by then become) said this at paragraphs 26 and 27 of his judgment:

26. There is force, also, in the submission that the judge failed to recognise that, as a matter of law, a common intention that Miss James should be entitled to a beneficial share in the property might be inferred from evidence of the parties’ conduct during the whole course of their dealings in relation to the property. Powerful support for that submission is found in the second sentence of paragraph [53] of the judgment: where the judge observed that Miss James could not rely on later indirect contributions to the mortgage (from the fruits of her labour in the business) “as constituting in some way the acquisition of the Property”. The real question, in this context, was whether Miss James could rely on the use of partnership monies (or, perhaps, receipts of the business at a time when she was not a partner) to fund payment of instalments due under the mortgage as evidence of an agreement, understanding or intention (made or reached after 1989) that she should have a beneficial share in the property. The judge did not ask himself the question in those terms. But if he had asked himself that question he would have been bound to conclude, on the facts in this case, that the answer must be “No”.

27. Although it is possible to envisage circumstances in which the fact that one party began to make contributions to capital repayments due under a mortgage might evidence an agreement that that party was to have a share in the property, the circumstances of this case are not of that nature. On the facts found by the judge, the only source of funds to meet Mr Thomas’ commitments under the mortgage, as well as all other household and personal expenses, was the receipts of the business. While the parties were living together they were dependent on the success of the business to meet their outgoings. It was not at all surprising that, in the early days of their relationship, Miss James should do what she could to ensure that the business prospered. That is not to undervalue her contribution; which, as Mr Thomas recognised, was substantial. But it is to recognise that what she was doing gives rise to no inference that the parties had agreed (or had reached a common understanding) that she was to have a share in the property: what she was doing was wholly explicable on other grounds.

5.2. Application to the facts of the case.
32. This is a case where Angela Webster was not involved in the acquisition of 22 Rothbury Street, where 22 Rothbury Street and subsequently acquired properties were placed in the sole name of John Webster even though 22 Rothbury Street had previously been in the joint names of John Webster and Christine Watson. It is case where there were no express discussions between the parties as to the beneficial interests each were to have in the properties. It is a case where the financial contributions to the family budget made by Angela Webster were significantly less than those made by John Webster. It is a case where there was no other commitment by John Webster either in the form of marriage or even by the making of mutual wills. It is a case where John Webster had 3 children by his first marriage that he might have wished to benefit and there is evidence of some infidelity by him. Furthermore it is a case where for reasons I have already given considerable caution is needed before imputing a common intention to the parties. In all the circumstances it is in my view impossible to impute to the parties a common intention that 57 Stepney Road was to be held as beneficial joint tenants.

33. I readily accept that the indirect contributions that Angela Webster made to the family budget are such that the Court would infer that Angela Webster had some interest in 57 Stepney Road under the second of Lord Bridge’s categories in Lloyds Bank v Rosset. In Paul Webster’s witness statement and in Mr Stevenson’s skeleton argument it was conceded that this might be as much as 50%. For reasons that will emerge later in this judgment it is not necessary for me to assess the interest exactly. For my part, however, having regard to the whole of the history of the dealings between Angela Webster and John Webster I think it unlikely that I would have assessed it at 50%. I would probably have assessed it at between 33% and 40%. However, for reasons I have given I would not infer a beneficial joint tenancy.

34. I regret that I can see no basis for imputing any common intention that Angela Webster should have any interest in the MKM shares. This was a business opportunity granted to John Webster. The shares were vested in his sole name. He borrowed £4,000 secured on property vested in his sole name and in respect of which he was paying the direct mortgage contributions. There were no discussions between the parties as to any interest for Angela Webster in the shares. It is true, as I have held, that Angela Webster had some beneficial interest in 57 Stepney Road. It is, however, not uncommon for husbands to borrow money for business ventures which are secure on jointly owned property. In my view there is insufficient evidence for the court to infer a common intention on the part of both Angela Webster and John Webster that she should have any interest in the shares. In my view the shares fall into the estate.

6. The Inheritance Act
6.1. The Law
35. The provisions of the Act are well known and I shall not lengthen this judgment by setting them out. It is common ground that Angela Webster is eligible to apply under section 1(1A) and/or 1(1)(e) of the Act for reasonable financial provision out of the estate of John Webster. It is equally common ground that under section 1(2)(b) of the Act reasonable financial provision means such provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances for Angela Webster to receive for her maintenance. There have been a number of decisions on the meaning of “maintenance” in connection with the Act. The most recent decision is that of HH Judge Kaye QC in Negus v Bahouse [2007] EWHC 2628 at paragraphs 84 to 88

84. “Maintenance”, for the purposes of the 1975 Act is not defined, but Goff LJ said this about it in Re Coventry (Deceased) [1980] Ch. 461 at pp. 484 to 485:

“So that whatever be the precise meaning of the word "maintenance" - and I do not think it necessary to attempt any precise definition - it is clear that it is a word of somewhat limited meaning in its application to any person qualified to apply, other than a husband or a wife.

There have been a number of cases under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938 previously in force, and also some cases from sister jurisdictions, which have dealt with the meaning of "maintenance." In particular, in this country there is In re E., decd.  [1966] 1 W.L.R 709 in which Stamp J. said that the purpose was not to keep a person above the breadline but to provide reasonable maintenance in all the circumstances. If I may say so with respect, "breadline" there would be more accurately described as "subsistence level." Then there was Millward v. Shenton  [1972] 1 W.L.R. 711 in this court. I think I need only refer to one of the overseas reports, In re Duranceau  [1952] 3 D.L.R. 714, 720, where, in somewhat poetic language, the court said that the question is: "Is the provision sufficient to enable the dependant to live neither luxuriously nor miserably, but decently and comfortably according to his or her station in life?

What is proper maintenance must in all cases depend upon all the facts and circumstances of the particular case being considered at the time, but I think it is clear on the one hand that one must not put too limited a meaning on it; it does not mean just enough to enable a person to get by; on the other hand, it does not mean anything which may be regarded as reasonably desirable for his general benefit or welfare.”

85.  I have also considered carefully the cases cited by counsel or to which I was referred.  Since there was no dispute on the law it is not necessary for me to add to the length of his judgment by referring to them.  At the end of the day it is accepted that each case is to some extent fact specific.

86. The Executors submitted forcibly that Ms Negus has enough in what she was effectively left, i.e. in terms of the Scottish Widows’ pension money and the share in the Spanish apartment and now the car, and needs no more.  Accordingly, she does not pass the first hurdle. 

87.  In my judgment, having regard to her age, the length of time she was with Henry, the factual background that I have previously mentioned, the fact that he paid for everything and provided her with a home and to the promises she made to him about a roof over her head, she is entitled at least to a reasonable degree of financial security and a degree of comfort for the rest of her life.  His promises may not have been enough to provide her with a beneficial interest in Flat 8, but I agree with Mr Price on her behalf, that it is relevant to take these assurances into account on this part of her claim.  HH Judge Norris QC, as he then was, took just such an approach in Churchill v. Roach and Others [2004] 3FCR 744 at pp. 764 to 765.

88. I entirely accept too, that “maintenance” is the touchstone but this must be maintenance in the context of her lifestyle as it was with him, not what it was immediately before, but paying due regard to what was said by Goff J in Re Coventry, which I have just quoted.  Her life had changed in eight years, no doubt allowing for the ups and doubts and vicissitudes of life, nevertheless, much for the better.  It does seem to me that lifestyle or “tone” in the sense described by Mr Price is at least to be taken into account. 

36. I adopt without further comment this guidance on the meaning of “maintenance”. An application for permission to appeal from the judgment was refused.

37. In determining an application under the Act the Court is required to adopt a two stage approach. Under section 3 of the Act the Court is required to take into account a number of factors in determining whether in all the circumstances it was reasonable for Angela Webster to receive nothing for her maintenance from the estate of John Webster. If it was not reasonable the court is then required to take into account the same circumstances to determine the extent of any award. The Court is required to look at the matter objectively rather than subjectively from the point of view of the deceased. It is required to take into account matters and facts as they are known at the hearing.

38. If the Court decides to make an order it has a wide discretion under section 2 of the Act as to the nature of the orders that can be made.

6.2. Application of the Act to the facts of this case.
39. I have set out in section 4 the facts relevant to the matters which the Court is required to have regard under sections 3(1)(a) – (g). I shall not repeat them here. The following features of the facts seem to me to be important:

1. this was a long period of cohabitation, longer as Miss Greenan submitted than many marriages. There were 2 children as a result of the relationship. In those circumstances John Webster had a substantial obligation and responsibility towards Angela Webster.
2. there is a very significant fall in the amount of the family income as a result of John Webster’s death. Prior to his death the family income was of the order of £56,000 per annum. After his death it was reduced to £13,000 per annum. If one assumes that Angela Webster was dependent to the extent of one half of the total income she is about £15,000 per annum worse off (£56,000/2 – £13,000). A Duxbury calculation based on a shortfall of £15,000 for a 49 year old woman is, according to Miss Greenan, capitalised at £265,000. Mr Stevenson did not dispute the figure but suggested that Duxbury capitalisation was of little relevance in the current economic climate of low interest rates.
3. Angela Webster has received £148,500 as a result of John Webster’s death. She now only has about £28,000 left. Whilst it is not possible to account for the whole of the shortfall a substantial part must be because of the loss of the substantial joint earnings the couple used to enjoy and the relatively comfortable life style it afforded them.
4. None of the beneficiaries have any demonstrated need. They have not disclosed their incomes.
5. Angela Webster is relatively young and is likely to need housing for a considerable period of time.
6. The assets in the estate comprise John Webster’s share of the property 57 Stepney Road subject to a mortgage currently of only £11,730 together with liquid assets which – on the assumptions set out above – may amount to about £64,800

40. It is not seriously in dispute that the effect of the intestacy does not make reasonable provision for Angela Webster. Apart from all other factors Angela Webster needs a roof over her head. At the very least she needs some interest in any part of 57 Stepney Road  that does not belong to her.

41. The main difference between the parties relates to 57 Stepney Road. Miss Greenan submits that it should be transferred to Angela Webster outright. Mr Stevenson submits that Angela Webster should receive an outright half share and only a life interest in the other half share. Miss Greenan points out that relations between Angela Webster and her step children are not good. She draws attention to the long period of cohabitation; the problems that might arise with improvements, repairs and if Angela Webster wished to raise money on the property. She accordingly submits it is a case for a clean break. In my view these submissions are sound. In my view 57 Stepney Road  should be transferred outright to Angela Webster. The only question that remains is whether  there should be a further award to cover the outstanding mortgage. If the property were transferred free of mortgage Angela Webster would appear to be in a position substantially to fund her existing lifestyle with the exception of holidays, entertainment and the like. She would have the remainder of her savings to fund this. The effect of an award of £12,000 is to reduce the capital available to the beneficiaries to approximately £52,000 or just over £10,000 each.

42. By way of a cross check the payment of £148,000, together with John Webster’s share in 57 Stepney Road  together with a further £12,000 would appear to be approximately the same as a Duxbury capitalisation of an income loss of £15,000 per annum for someone of Angela Webster’s age.

43. In all the circumstances that is the award I propose to make.

JOHN BEHRENS