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Home > Judgments > 2009 archive

Walsh v Singh & Ors [2009] EWHC 3219 (Ch)

Neutral Citation Number: [2009] EWHC 3219 (Ch)
Claim No: 7BM30614

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
CHANCERY DIVISION
BIRMINGHAM DISTRICT REGISTRY

Claim No: 7BM30614
Birmingham Civil Justice Centre
The Priory Courts
33 Bull Street
Birmingham B4 6DS

15th December 2009

B e f o r e :
His Honour Judge Purle QC
(sitting as a Judge of the High Court)
____________________
Between:

MOIRA WALSH (Claimant)
 
- and -

MARK BUDDHA SINGH (AKA MARK BUDDHA and MARK WALSH) (First Defendant)

WESTERBY TRUSTEE SERVICES LTD (Second Defendant)


____________________

John Brennan (instructed by Hawkins) appeared for the Claimant

Michael Roberts (instructed under the Bar's Public Access Scheme) appeared for the First Defendant.

The Second Defendant did not appear and was not represented

Hearing dates: 23rd to 27th March, 2nd and 3rd April 2009
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HTML VERSION OF JUDGMENT
____________________

Crown Copyright ©

Judge Purle QC :
The Parties

1. The Claimant ("Miss Walsh") is a barrister. The First Defendant ("Mr Singh") is a dentist. The Second Defendant ("the Trustee") is a trustee of Mr Singh's SIPP. The Trustee played no part at the trial of this action. When therefore I refer to "the parties", I am referring to Miss Walsh and Mr Singh and not the Trustee unless the context otherwise requires.

2. The parties lived together as a couple for a number of years from the end of 1997. They initially lived at Miss Walsh's house in Leicester, which she alone owned.

Vale Cottages and Other Land at Leire
3. Later, in April 1999, a property known as Vale Cottages in Leire, Leicestershire, was purchased in Mr Singh's name. Miss Walsh claims a 50% beneficial interest (or some other share) in that property under a constructive trust or proprietary estoppel. Mr Singh says Vale Cottages is wholly his beneficially.

4. At this time, Miss Walsh was training to become a barrister. She previously trained as a psychologist and was working as a Sales Manager for Colgate Palmolive when she met Mr Singh. She was called to the Bar and commenced pupillage in Leicester in 2000. She was then taken on as a tenant and established a thriving practice.

5. Miss Walsh did not contribute financially to the purchase price of £165,000 for Vale Cottages, but said she was promised a half share. She told me (and I accept) that she was very much in love with Mr Singh. She also said that she was concerned (because of her parents' previous experience of ending their working lives without owning their own home) that she should have a beneficial interest in the property (Vale Cottages) in which she and Mr Singh were to live. In addition, she regarded it as a badge of his commitment to her that he should acknowledge her half interest in Vale Cottages. She claimed that Mr Singh agreed to her having a half share on many occasions both before its purchase and subsequently, and specifically recalls 2 occasions before the purchase. The first occasion was when Mr Singh told her that, as he would be paying the mortgage, Vale Cottages would be in his sole name. He is then said to have confirmed, though she could not be sure about the actual words because it was so long ago, that Vale Cottages would be jointly owned and she would have a half share. The second occasion was over a pizza at her house when the commitment was repeated with Miss Walsh taking (she said) a much more serious tone.

6. I was a little surprised to be told by Miss Walsh both that she could not be sure about the actual words used on the first occasion because it was so long ago but that she could be sure that Mr Singh confirmed that Vale Cottages would be jointly owned and that she would have a half share. Leaving aside the technical contradiction between joint and shared ownership, nothing could be more specific than that, and I would have expected her to be sure about the actual words used if they were that specific.

7. As to the second occasion, she did not state any lack of certainty about the words used. However, the context of the discussion was that she did not wish their personal finances to be run in as haphazard a way as Mr Singh's business interests. This resulted in Mr Singh confirming (according to Miss Walsh) that her home was her home and she was entitled to have a joint say in it and be clear about decisions made. Without more, that said nothing about beneficial ownership, as Vale Cottages would be her home as she was to live there with Mr Singh. Nevertheless, she went on to say that, after pressing Mr Singh, he said that if anything went wrong she would be financially protected in that she would have half of the house. Miss Walsh also went on to say that Mr Singh promised to ensure her financial security if they ever split up, adding that the phrase "ensuring her financial security" was often used by him over the years.

8. Vale Cottages was seen by Miss Walsh as a suitable base for equestrian activities (she was a keen horsewoman). She claimed that she and Mr Singh had a shared dream of developing an equestrian centre and living at Vale Cottages indefinitely. Whether this can fairly be described as a "dream" on Mr Singh's part may be doubted, but he undoubtedly saw it as an avenue to go down, and their search for a property (and the purchase of Vale Cottages) was understood by family and acquaintances to be a search for and purchase of an "equestrian" property. In fact, Vale Cottages did not have enough land for a viable equestrian centre, though there was stabling and some 4 acres of land. The stabling had a sitting tenant who appeared to be protected, but who after a while left voluntarily. There was also adjoining land which might become (and did eventually become) available. So the idea of an equestrian centre, though not immediately achievable, was on the cards from the beginning. Moreover, early on, Mr Singh (who knew nothing about horses) purchased 2 ponies as a breeding pair – a stallion called Pointless and a mare called Burger. The stallion lived up to his name, and no breeding was achieved through his efforts. Mr Singh did, however, have it in mind that a breeding business could be used to secure planning permission to build an equine tied house. The breeding business would benefit, according to his witness statement, from "an equine orientated wife". Though he did not say so explicitly, Miss Walsh clearly fitted the bill. This idea was developed subsequently when more land was purchased, a point I return to later.

9. Miss Walsh claimed to have rendered substantial assistance in searching for properties and eventually finding Vale Cottages, researching the protected tenancy point, carrying out initial works to put the property (which was very run down) into a useable state, researching the planning position and obtaining permissions (the most important of which was given in January 2002 for a much larger house of 12,000 sq. ft. in the grounds) and in supervising and contributing physically to subsequent renovation works in 2003. She also helped Mr Singh in other business activities generally, and was instrumental in helping him to acquire for his SIPP adjoining land, eventually giving up (after first going part-time) a promising career at the Bar (to which she has now returned) so as to devote herself to their joint venture of developing an equestrian centre. I consider the detail of that activity later, but first I should deal with the engagement.

The Engagement and the Ring
10. The parties became engaged in April 2001. It is in issue how long the engagement lasted. According to Mr Singh, Miss Walsh, dissatisfied with the lack of romantic ceremony attending the engagement, broke it off following an altercation and returned the ring to him within a year. However, Miss Walsh said the parties remained engaged until December 2005. She did return the ring to Mr Singh, but this was so that it could be resized. Mr Singh returned it to the jeweller who he had previously bought the ring from, and there it remained. Mr Singh also (then or subsequently) sent back another ring he had bought for Miss Walsh to the same jeweller, ostensibly for resizing, and that remained there, too, for a considerable period of time. This second ring was only returned to Miss Walsh shortly before the trial began. It is clear, therefore, that the fact that the engagement ring was returned to the jeweller is no necessary indication that Miss Walsh had given up ownership, for the same is true of the second ring.

11. As the nature of the relationship through to December 2005 may be important to the remainder of the issues I have to decide, it is appropriate that I should decide the issue of the engagement at the outset.

12. Generally, Miss Walsh was a more satisfactory witness than Mr Singh, though I do think that elements of her evidence were exaggerated or infected by wishful thinking. On the whole, though, her evidence was given with assurance and apparent truthfulness. On the specific issue of the engagement, and its duration, I much preferred her evidence to the evidence of Mr Singh. Her evidence was corroborated by the fact that a number of witnesses spoke in evidence of her and Mr Singh as an engaged couple, and their wedding plans were openly discussed in the presence of those individuals at a time when, according to Mr Singh, the engagement had been broken off. Mr Singh's answer to this was that they kept up the pretence in front of friends, relatives and others as that was Miss Walsh's wish. He portrayed her as someone living in a fantasy world. The relationship was forever up and down, and he never had the degree of emotional commitment of which Miss Walsh spoke. Yet he did become engaged, which was difficult to reconcile with the turbulent relationship that he portrayed. I have no doubt that the relationship did have its ups and downs. According to Mr Singh, completion of Vale Cottages coincided with a brief period when the parties were living apart, and he originally moved in alone, with Miss Walsh following not long after, following a reconciliation. He may have got the timing wrong for this, as the insurance proposal filled in at the time of purchase revealed Miss Walsh as an occupier, and she remembered moving in at the beginning. In any event, the degree of turbulence in the relationship was not anything like as great as Mr Singh made out. It may well be that he harboured doubts from time to time during the relationship, but that did not stop him getting engaged. Nor did he express those doubts to Miss Walsh. On the contrary, I find (as Miss Walsh told me) that Mr Singh from an early stage expressed his love for her and that he spoke of their relationship, well before the engagement, as a long-term one, involving marriage and children. The parties, once they moved in to Vale Cottages together, were living together ostensibly as man and wife (as they had done previously in Miss Walsh's home) and Mr Singh even changed his name to Walsh in May 2002, though he never in fact appears to have made any significant use of that name, and made a will in Miss Walsh's favour in February 2003. The idea advanced by Mr Singh that he was in some way badgered into this by Miss Walsh struck me as unreal. Miss Walsh also made a Will at the same time in Mr Singh's favour.

13. I find further that the parties stayed engaged until late 2005, and that the engagement ring remained Miss Walsh's throughout, and is still hers. I consider that Mr Singh exploited the handing back of the ring by linking it to an altercation which, whatever else it may have been, did not amount to a breaking off the engagement. The ring was returned so that it could be resized, and Mr Singh deliberately left it with the jeweller for safekeeping (as he did also in the case of the other ring) perhaps hoping that sleeping dogs would lie.

Constructive Trust and Estoppel
14. The conduct of Mr Singh relating to both rings was decidedly unattractive, and shows him as a man who keeps his cards close to his chest. That raises the possibility, to which I must give serious consideration, that in his dealings with Vale Cottages and the other properties to which this action relates, he was less than forthright and may have either promised Miss Walsh, or at least encouraged in her a belief that she had, a beneficial interest which he may secretly have never intended her to have. If, however, he did make such a promise, or encourage such a belief, his unexpressed reservations would amount to nothing if Miss Walsh acted in some detrimental way upon the faith of the promise or belief thus encouraged.

15. In considering that issue, it is relevant to consider what Miss Walsh did. Miss Walsh's primary case before me was that she was entitled under an express bargain constructive trust. Alternatively, she relied upon an implied bargain constructive trust, the nature and extent of her contribution being such as to give rise to the necessary inference.

16. I have no doubt that Miss Walsh did give assistance in all the ways she suggested. She did not do so alone, however and the significance of her contributions was not as great as she made out, though they were significant.

17. Miss Walsh did do much searching for properties on her own, or with friends, or with Mr Singh. She found Vale Cottages. Mr Singh however bought it and paid the cash element of the purchase price and the mortgage repayments. The mortgage was in his sole name. The dealings of the solicitor were with Mr Singh. The vendor, Mr Bateman, who gave evidence by telephone link, could not remember any significant involvement on the part of Miss Walsh, though he remembered meeting her and (after some prompting) remembered a meal which she cooked, which she said was part of the strategy of keeping him sweet.

18. Miss Walsh also did some research of the sitting tenant position, and made contact with the sitting tenant, though in the events which happened he left voluntarily. Mr Singh in turn engaged solicitors at his expense to advise on the situation. He also negotiated a reduction of £5,000 off the original purchase price because of the sitting tenant.

19. Miss Walsh also undertook, with the help of her parents, some initial work to make Vale Cottages habitable, including the occasional use of a dumper truck. Overall, though, these works were explicable by her wish to live at Vale Cottages, and said nothing about ownership. Mr Singh paid for an odd-job man to help with the early works, and did much work himself. He also engaged at his expense workmen to carry out the later renovation works. For nearly a year after October 2002, he and Miss Walsh lived elsewhere, though visiting Vale Cottages to check up on progress. In the main, the workmen took their instructions from Mr Singh, though Miss Walsh would also give instructions in his absence. She also collected some heavy sleepers on one occasion, 8 pallets of tiles and bricks on another occasion and (from time to time) other materials such as sand. Over time, she did some decorating, helped with harrowing and seeding, and dug up, planted and tended trees. She helped with the whacking of gravel drives. She had the use of Mr Singh's credit card account for essential expenditure. The expenditure borne by Mr Singh was considerable, in excess of £150,000.

20. The planning work was mainly undertaken by Mr Singh, with the help of a planning consultant, though Miss Walsh was very supportive of Mr Singh's efforts, researching the planning position independently and preparing a script for Mr Singh for a planning meeting, which she attended with him. The plans submitted bore both their names. Mr Singh (though he denied it) told Miss Walsh's mother what a clever daughter she had when the second planning permission came through.

21. Miss Walsh by Land Registry searches ascertained who owned the paddock opposite and the adjoining fields. She and Mr Singh approached the paddock owner through an intermediary, but the owner did not wish to sell. The paddock was subsequently bought, much later in 2005 for £35,000, after Miss Walsh saw a for sale sign. The sale was negotiated by Mr Singh.

22. Miss Walsh also claimed to have been involved with negotiations with the owner of the fields resulting in a sale (33 acres were eventually bought). However, the owner, Mr Tebbs, could only remember dealing with Mr Singh in this connection, though he remembered Miss Walsh giving him a glass of orange juice on a hot summers day. Miss Walsh also remembered walking the boundaries with him. Mr Singh described the course of negotiations in detail, and it is clear that he was the person primarily involved. The purchase price was £5,000 per acre, or £165,000, which reflected some development potential.

23. The fields and paddock were both bought (in May 2004 and August 2005 respectively) for Mr Singh's SIPP. Miss Walsh paid £7,500 to Mr Singh on 3rd December 2003 in connection with the fields and £25,000 to him subsequently for the purchase of the paddock. Mr Singh said these were both loans which, in the case of the £7,500, he has repaid and, in the case of the £25,000, he acknowledged is repayable with interest, some of which he has paid.

24. I accept that the both the £7,500 and the £25,000 must have been loans, as the SIPP arrangements would otherwise have been ineffective. It was clear from Miss Walsh's written and oral evidence that, although she started by saying that the arrangement was to be the same as for Vale Cottages (i.e., on her case, 50/50 ownership) she as well as Mr Singh intended that Mr Singh should obtain tax relief in respect of the contributions he was making with the monies advanced by her, and that the land should in each case be purchased for the SIPP. That relief, and the effectiveness of the SIPP arrangements, presupposed that Mr Singh was investing his own money, so the monies he received from Miss Walsh can only have been by way of gift or loan. As no-one has suggested that Miss Walsh was making a gift, that leaves a loan as the only possibility.

25. Miss Walsh originally claimed that the fields and paddock were held on a constructive trust 50/50 for her and Mr Walsh. When confronted with the obstacles posed by the SIPP arrangements, however, this claim was abandoned. The Trustee, of course, knew nothing of the alleged 50% beneficial interest.

26. Mr Brennan for Miss Walsh also argued in his closing submissions in favour of a tracing remedy in respect of the SIPP monies, on the footing that Miss Walsh was induced by mistake or misrepresentation into advancing the monies. The mistake or misrepresentation was to the effect that she thought she was getting an equal beneficial interest when she was not. However, insofar as this claim survived Mr Brennan's closing submissions, I reject it. Miss Walsh voluntarily provided monies through the SIPP route so that Mr Singh would obtain the tax advantages of making the investments in that way. A tracing remedy would mean that the monies were not Mr Singh's monies, but Miss Walsh's, which would be contrary to what both parties intended. I do not consider that Miss Walsh was in this respect operating under a material mistake or that she was the victim of a material misrepresentation. She intended Mr Singh to invest the monies in his SIPP, and must therefore have intended that the monies would be Mr Singh's, and the properties would be purchased for the SIPP, not herself.

27. I should add that Mr Singh suggested that there was a written loan agreement in respect of the £25,000 which Miss Walsh has suppressed. I reject this allegation, which Miss Walsh denied. There was also at one stage a suggestion that Miss Walsh's brother (Kieron Walsh) was involved in the loan discussions. Kieron Walsh was called as a witness to deny this and I accept his evidence on the point. There was no written loan agreement or relevant discussion with Kieron Walsh. Nevertheless, the £25,000 was a loan, and I accept Mr Singh's evidence that it was repayable with interest. Mr Singh has also provided satisfactory evidence of a payment of £1,036.75 to Miss Walsh on 31st March 2006 out of his savings account, which he said was interest. Whether this was intended as interest or as a maintenance payment at the time is unclear, but as he now appropriates that payment to interest, I am on balance persuaded that it should be so regarded.

28. As to the £7,500, Mr Singh pointed to the payment by him of £5,000 to Miss Walsh shortly after the £7,500 was paid in December 2003. He claimed that this was in part repayment of the £7,500, which he borrowed in the short term in case cleared funds did not reach his account in time from another source, and that the rest was repaid shortly thereafter, though he has not identified the balancing payments of £2,500. However, Miss Walsh explained that the £5,000 payment related to a different loan she made (in cash) totalling £5,000 in respect of (she thought) business rates which she lent to Mr Singh. She identified 2 cash withdrawals from her account totalling £4,000 which tied in with this, and a receipt for a saddle she sold for £1,000 cash. Of the 2 rival versions, I prefer Miss Walsh's evidence. If Mr Singh's version was the correct one, I would have expected the whole of the £7,500 to have been repaid at once. In the result, Miss Walsh has not been repaid the £7,500, even though it was (I find) a loan. That sum accordingly remains due.

29. Miss Walsh also assisted Mr Singh in his other business interests. She said this helped him to earn money to service the mortgage. Thus, she helped him clean up after a flood to his dental premises, delivering dental chairs on several occasions, and giving other general assistance. She put this down to "our joint life together". This did no more than emphasise that they were living together as a couple, but said nothing about property ownership. The same applied to other instances of business assistance, namely the winding down of a garage business, debt collection, work relating to Mr Singh's Talbot Street premises, the preparation of a witness statement and skeleton argument for use in Court, and helping with the designs and costings of a lorry conversion project in Bulgaria.

30. Miss Walsh elsewhere in her first witness statement said that she had assisted Mr Singh with some of his properties, in particular in renovating a house in Coventry in 2004, but not on the basis she would have any interest in it, just because they were a couple. In my judgment, the rest of her activity in relation to Mr Walsh's business activities fell into the same category.

31. Miss Walsh also pointed to the fact that the staff at the Northampton dental practice were employed in her name and that she took out a loan for £15,000 which she paid to Mr Singh's solicitors in connection with a legal dispute. The employment of staff in her name was something that she did not appear to know about until HMRC got on to her about late filings. Whilst that did nothing to enhance Mr Singh's general credit, it clearly could not assist me one way or the other on the ownership of Vale Cottages. As to the £15,000, I accept that she helped Mr Singh with the loan that she took out. She appears to have made a number of the loan repayments herself, which have not directly been recouped. Overall, however, the help she received from Mr Singh over the years was, in financial terms, far greater. Incidents of this kind confirmed the closeness of the relationship, but did not significantly advance the case on beneficial ownership of Vale Cottages. Moreover, there were other occasions when monies were lent and repaid – for example, the £5,000 business rates loan I have mentioned. Mr Singh mentioned others in his witness statement.

32. Mr Brennan rightly pressed me with the proposition (which I accept) that the modern approach to quantifying a beneficial interest is to tend in this sort of case towards 50/50, and not to carry out a detailed financial analysis. I agree, though there is no inflexible rule. I must first decide, however, whether Miss Walsh had any beneficial interest at all.

33. An important element of Miss Walsh's case was that she left the Bar in August 2004 at Mr Singh's request to concentrate on the equestrian business, previously going part-time. It was difficult for her to establish by reference to her Chambers' records the extent to which she went part- time, though she put this down (which I accept) to the difficulty at the Bar of managing a part-time regime strictly. It was evident however that she did cease work in August 2004, and had been working less the previous 2 years or so. I accept also that what motivated this was her wish to devote herself to the development of the Vale Cottages property, especially once the additional fields had been acquired in May 2004. This squared with Mr Singh's wishes, as he thought that the development of an equestrian or breeding business might help the planning situation. The idea (according to Miss Walsh) was to get planning permission for a barn in the fields (namely those acquired for the SIPP) and then later seek permission for a groom's flat, to be converted ultimately into a full sized residential property, where she and Mr Singh would live, selling Vale Cottages with a 12,000 sq. ft. house and some adjoining land.

34. It is very doubtful whether this plan was readily capable of achievement from a planning perspective, and it would have implications for the SIPP as well (as indeed did the acquisition of adjoining lands), but I have no doubt that it was discussed, as Miss Walsh said it was. By the time Mr Singh gave evidence before me, he was conscious of the obstacles in the way of the planning process outlined by Miss Walsh. I am not however persuaded that he fully appreciated these obstacles at the time of his discussions with Miss Walsh. He probably did not, as the discussions commenced before the fields were purchased and Miss Walsh left the Bar within a few months of their purchase.

35. Miss Walsh said she would never have given up her career at the Bar unless she had been told that "half of everything we were doing was mine". I do not think that can be right, as I have already found that the SIPP arrangement relating to the fields was accepted by Miss Walsh, and that meant that the £7,500 was a loan, and the fields were the SIPP's, not hers. Nevertheless, I do accept that she gave up the Bar so as to devote more time to the horse side of the business. She was willing to do this because she was engaged and planning to get married to Mr Singh, and saw her future life with him.

36. Each party tried to persuade me that the suggestion of giving up the Bar was the other's suggestion. However, I have no doubt that it was a joint decision, which suited both of them. It suited Mr Singh to have Miss Walsh on the premises running an equestrian business, and it suited Miss Walsh because she preferred to be working with horses than be at the Bar. She was successful at the Bar, but the life was pressured and she preferred to be around horses.

37. Having left the Bar, Miss Walsh developed the equestrian business. It has, as was expected, lost money, though the exact amount of the losses has not been reliably ascertained. It was, however, Mr Singh's business, with Miss Walsh working in it for him. The losses were all for his account. Mr Singh was not troubled by this, as he thought it enhanced the planning prospects to have an equestrian business there, a point he confirmed to Clare Else (a livery customer). The business was not meant to have commercial reality. A number of horses including a stallion (Washington Postman) were purchased. Washington Postman earned some stud fees, which I think Miss Walsh kept. There is no doubt that Miss Walsh worked hard in the business, with the assistance of grooms whom she managed. They were employed in her name though Mr Singh in fact paid them. She evented her horses when she could, which were schooled on the premises. As mentioned, she offered livery facilities to Clare Else also. It was hard work, but it was also fun.

Conclusions on Constructive Trust and Estoppel
38. Looked at overall, the contributions on Miss Walsh's part to what may loosely be described as the Leire project can fairly be described as significant and would be sufficient to give rise to a constructive trust or estoppel if the necessary common intention coupled with detrimental reliance existed, or the necessary belief (similarly coupled) in a shared or joint beneficial interest was both held by Miss Walsh and encouraged by Mr Singh.

39. Despite my reservations about Mr Singh, I am unable to accept Miss Walsh's evidence that she was promised or that she was encouraged to believe (or did believe) that she would have a 50/50 or indeed any other share in Vale Cottages at the time of its purchase, or subsequently. In addition, I have already rejected any claim (which was abandoned anyway, save to the extent of any tracing claim) to a share in relation to the fields and paddock purchased for the SIPP.

40. I reach my conclusion about Vale Cottages for the following principal reasons:-

(i) The property was to be purchased and mortgaged by Mr Singh alone. The renovations and any development would be at his expense.

(ii) Miss Walsh was a student who was in no position at the time to make any significant financial contribution of her own.

(iii) Miss Walsh retained her own property where the parties had previously been living, which she let out and (subsequently) sold for her own account, netting approximately £90,000.

(iv) The parties had separate bank accounts and were not intending to have a joint account. Their resources were not pooled, though some living and other expenditure was borne by Miss Walsh as her financial position improved following her commencing practice at the Bar. She also had the use of a credit card on Mr Singh's account.

(v) At no stage was the alleged beneficial half interest recorded in writing, despite Miss Walsh's professed concern to have an explicit assurance. Nor did Miss Walsh even ask Mr Singh to put it in writing. This is very surprising in the case of a person of high intelligence, the more so as she was training to become (and subsequently became) a barrister.

(vi) Miss Walsh told Peter Tooke in 2001 that she knew that if she ever split up from Mr Singh she would not be entitled to anything. Mr Tooke was Mr Singh's Bank Manager and remains his friend. Despite his closeness to Mr Singh, I accept this evidence, which was credible. He remembered her saying this (though a long time ago) as he linked it to the time when he was going through his own divorce. Miss Walsh was by this time practising as a barrister advising on divorce amongst other matters.

(vii) Miss Walsh also told Jordan Dimitrov (who worked at Vale Cottages in 2003 and continued to visit Vale Cottages after then from time to time) that if she and Mr Singh separated she would just have a few horses, the dog and the horse box. He also recalled her saying that she wanted to give up work as a barrister and concentrate on the horses. Mr Dimitrov was a careful witness, whose evidence I accept. I should, perhaps, add that his wife (Maria Dimitrova) also gave evidence but demonstrated such obvious animosity towards Miss Walsh that I felt I could not rely on her evidence at all. Her brother (Atanos Ovcharov) was also an unconvincing witness, showing some animosity towards Miss Walsh, though not to the same extent as Mrs Dimitrova. I would not rely on his uncorroborated evidence, but would not disregard it to the extent that it was corroborated by anyone other than Mrs Dimitrova. I do not regard any of that as a sufficient reason for rejecting Mr Dimitrov's evidence, which in turn corroborated Atanos Ovcharov's evidence. Atanos Ovcharov spoke of Miss Walsh saying that everything was Mr Singh's, and that if he kicked her out she would walk away with nothing.

(viii) Mr Singh was not just a dentist. He was a canny businessman and, committed though he was to Miss Walsh in their personal relationship (albeit with occasional unexpressed reservations), he would not have promised her a half share (or any other beneficial interest) when the financial burden and risk was all his.

(ix) The "Gentleman's Agreement" to which I refer below, signed by both Mr Singh and Miss Walsh in March 2006, made no reference to a promise of a shared (or other) beneficial interest, but proceeded on the express basis that the properties at and adjoining Vale Cottages were owned or controlled by Mr Singh. This was appropriate wording to reflect Mr Singh's ownership of Vale Cottages, and the SIPP's ownership of the remaining land, which Mr Singh effectively controlled as principal beneficiary and co-trustee.

(x) All of Miss Walsh's contributions to the project were referable to her recognition of the relationship as a long-term relationship, where the parties intended to marry. Her leaving the Bar was also something she chose to do, albeit so that she could devote herself fully to the equestrian business, in the context of her long-term relationship and intended marriage. She did not do any of those things in the belief that she either had or would acquire any beneficial interest in Vale Cottages or any other part of the Leire land.

(xi) Though her contributions were significant, they were relatively insignificant when measured against the financial and other contributions of Mr Singh. Whilst this would not be determinative if a beneficial interest was intended, they are strong pointers against beneficial ownership differing from legal ownership.

(xii) The fact that Mr Singh made a Will in February 2003 in favour of Miss Walsh (and vice versa) is neutral on ownership before his death.

Other Evidence on Constructive Trust and Estoppel
41. In reaching this conclusion, I have not overlooked other evidence led on Miss Walsh's behalf, which I now turn to consider.

42. Miss Walsh's best friend, Ann Marie Talbot, claimed to remember Mr Singh saying, when he and Miss Walsh were looking for a property, that the property would be jointly owned. She also claimed that he reiterated this on a number of occasions after the purchase. She specifically claimed to recall an occasion when she approached Mr Singh and obtained an assurance from him at the time Vale Cottages was being purchased that it would be owned 50/50 between himself and Miss Walsh. Mr Singh denied that any such conversation took place. She claimed to have approached Mr Singh after discussing the matter with her father because she was concerned at hearing from Miss Walsh that Vale Cottages was being put in Mr Singh's name alone for mortgage reasons. It was however evident when Miss Talbot gave evidence that her actual recollection was not strong, and I felt that she was straining to remember things which were helpful to Miss Walsh's case, and may (perhaps subconsciously) have embellished the truth. Her witness statement was slanted towards portraying Miss Walsh's case in the best possible light, and I formed the view in cross-examination that her wish to help Miss Walsh coloured her oral evidence. On the particular point of the alleged beneficial interest, that wish in my judgment led her into error or falsehood (it does not matter which). I find that she did discuss Vale Cottages (and the other adjoining land subsequently purchased) with both Miss Walsh and Mr Singh. However, her recollection that Mr Singh ever stated that the ownership was 50/50, or joint, was, in my judgment, unreliable, and I do not accept it. Mr Singh may have said that he would support Miss Walsh (which he did), and that she would be living with him indefinitely, but he made no promise or other commitment of shared beneficial ownership.

43. I think it is likely that Mr Singh would have told Miss Walsh also that she could live at Vale Cottages with him indefinitely, that he would support her, and that she should have no fears for the future, as they were to be married (though not then formally engaged). This was consistent with the protestations of love and long-term commitment he expressed from an early stage of their relationship. It was in this context that he probably also told Miss Walsh from time to time that her financial future was secure. He may well have said something to that effect also at the time of the purchase of Vale Cottages, but I do not think that this was understood by Miss Walsh or could reasonably have been understood by her as promising her a beneficial interest in Vale Cottages. She knew Mr Singh was buying that property for them both to live in, but in his own name, as he was paying both the cash element of the purchase price and the mortgage. She understood that this meant that he would be sole owner, and went ahead because she hoped to marry him and spend the rest of her life with him. She knew that there was a risk that things would go wrong, but took that risk willingly.

44. Mr Singh never said anything which could reasonably be taken as promising Miss Walsh an equal (or any) beneficial interest in Vale Cottages. He saw its purchase as an investment opportunity, not just a place to live. The exploitation of that opportunity would need paying for, and he was (as Miss Walsh knew) the only candidate for that purpose.

45. Miss Walsh's mother, Pauline Walsh, also gave evidence to the effect that she obtained from Mr Singh confirmation that Vale Cottages would be owned jointly and equally, even though purchased in Mr Singh's name alone. However, it became evident during her cross-examination that she equated joint (or equal) ownership with living together as man and wife. Her understanding as to ownership was no more than an assumption, and I reject her evidence (to the extent that it survived cross-examination, which in truth it did not) that she was told anything about joint or equal beneficial ownership. She also gave evidence of subsequent assurances Mr Singh gave her to the effect that Miss Walsh would be completely secure financially with what she and Mr Singh hoped to achieve. However, assurances of this kind were readily understandable in the context of a committed relationship between engaged couples and said nothing about existing or future property rights. Indeed, one such assurance was said to have been given on the occasion of the celebration of the engagement.

46. Much of the other evidence called by Miss Walsh in support of her case rested upon the perception (which I have found to justified) that they were living together as man and wife. Whilst many non-lawyers take that as an indication that the "common law" wife has rights similar to that of a real wife, that is not correct. The rights of the parties must be judged by reference to principles of law which do not readily fit the general perception of what is fair and reasonable between spouses. I am concerned in this context with the law of property and the law of trusts, not with notions of ancillary relief or maintenance such as pertain on a divorce.

47. In similar vein, Pauline Walsh spoke of the "project at Leire" as being "a joint venture for their joint future financial security". So, in a sense, it was, as they were engaged to be married and the Leire project was seen as a source of future wealth and security, which Miss Walsh would expect to enjoy as Mr Singh's partner and future wife. Likewise, when (for example) Miss Walsh said in her witness statement that she was told by Mr Singh over a celebratory meal after obtaining planning permission in January 2002 that "we would never have to worry about money again" and that they "discussed with great delight that night the fact that our future was secure with the increased value of Vale Cottages with this planning permission", that all took place in the context of an engaged couple looking to the future. That, however, said nothing about what the position would be in the event that the parties split up. I do not consider that Miss Walsh ever regarded or could reasonably have regarded statements of that kind as confirming or promising her a beneficial interest in Vale Cottages.

48. Similar observations apply to much other evidence in this case to the effect that the parties were in a "joint venture". This particularly applied after Miss Walsh left the Bar and concentrated on running the horse breeding and equestrian business. It applied to an extent before then, as she was undoubtedly involved (though not to the extent claimed by her) with renovation works. She saw herself, and was seen by others, as being in a joint venture with Mr Singh. A number of people therefore assumed that the property was owned jointly. For example, Susan Tutcher (from whom Washington Postman was purchased in 2004) said in her witness statement that she was aware from what both parties said that the applications for planning were "a joint venture on an equal basis". In cross-examination, however, she could not recall the words "on an equal basis" being used. This was I find an assumption on her part from the apparent nature of the relationship. Later on in her witness statement, she said she was told by both of the parties that Miss Walsh had given up her career as a barrister so as to develop their plans for their "jointly owned property at Leire". This statement as to joint ownership was also, I find, an assumption on her part. In her oral evidence, she said (unsurprisingly) that she did not ask about ownership, but that she understood from what Mr Singh told her that Miss Walsh was "absolutely in the business on equal terms". That could not have been right, as Miss Walsh was not a business partner. It was common ground that the horse business lost money (how much is in issue) and that those losses were borne by Mr Singh, whose business it was.

49. Claire Else (the livery customer) spoke of Miss Walsh and Mr Singh purchasing the paddock opposite together, unaware that the purchase was for Mr Singh's SIPP. There was no reason why she, or others in a like position, should be aware of the details of the purchase arrangements, but this highlights the potential danger of relying on the perceptions of third parties in this sort of case. Similar comments apply to Louise Adamson (a groom from October 2005 to December 2006) who was under the impression that the equestrian business was Miss Walsh's.

50. Expressions such as "joint venture", though of help in an appropriate context, are sometimes invoked to resolve legal issues when no other tag can be found. In the present case, the expression does not denote any significant legal relationship. It is noteworthy that Miss Walsh's case was not that the parties were in partnership. Her case was that the horse business was expected to (as it did) run at a loss, which Mr Singh alone would bear, but that she, whilst not being responsible for any of the losses, would have a beneficial interest in the land from which the business was being conducted. That was a possible legal result, but it required more than the notion of an ill-defined "joint venture" to achieve it.

51. Oliver Townend, who is now an International Event Rider, also gave evidence of Vale Cottages being referred to by the parties as "our property", which he said included the adjoining fields and the paddock over the road (in fact, unbeknown to Mr Townend, purchased for the SIPP). References by joint occupiers (which the parties were) to "our property" are inherently ambiguous, as the expression may denote no more than joint occupation, depending on the context. Given that Mr Townend included the SIPP properties, I do not think that the references should be taken as references to beneficial ownership. He went on later in his statement to say that Mr Singh told him that he and Miss Walsh owned everything jointly including all the land (i.e., paddock and adjoining fields). In this he must have been mistaken as clearly they did not, and that is not even Miss Walsh's case now. Insofar as his evidence is to be taken as referring to Vale Cottages alone, I can not regard it as reliable, or more than impressionistic.

52. Miss Walsh's father, Edward Walsh, also used the language of "joint venture" but this was in the context of an intended marriage. He said in his witness statement that Mr Singh certainly represented to him and his wife that what was being done at Leire was for his and Miss Walsh's "joint future benefit" and they both hoped that as a result of the development they were doing and the planning applications they would make a lot of money out of the site. When he came to give oral evidence, his actual recollection of anything specific was very vague. This is not a criticism of his oral evidence, which was truthfully given, but it does mean that I must be cautious before placing any reliance on anything in his witness statement. I do not in those circumstances regard the statement I have referred to as pointing towards beneficial ownership, rather than the shared general aspirations of an engaged couple intending to marry, have children and remain together indefinitely.

53. Paula Arnott (a friend) also gave evidence for Miss Walsh. In her witness statement, she said that both Miss Walsh and Mr Singh told her that the purchase of Vale Cottages was a "joint venture" though her recollection of what (if anything) was said by Mr Singh to that effect barely withstood cross-examination. She also said that Vale Cottages was to be jointly owned in equal shares. She gave detailed evidence of a conversation in March 1999 with both of the parties, when there was a delay in the purchase. Miss Walsh was upset because she was anxious to have somewhere for her horses to go. Mr Singh reassured Miss Walsh that she would soon have her own home which nobody could take away from her. Paula Arnott could not recall the exact words used but was firm that Mr Singh spoke of joint ownership. However, on being pressed, Paula Arnott attributed this to the fact that Mr Singh and Miss Walsh were an established partnership, and likened it to her own established relationship of 8 years with her own partner. Like Pauline Walsh, therefore, her understanding of joint ownership sprung from the nature of the relationship, and not (I find) from anything said or done by Mr Singh. Other comments to similar effect in her witness statement are subject to the same observation. She also spoke of discussions with Mr Singh on trusts taxes and pensions, and what would happen if the parties broke up. She specifically recalled also Mr Singh discussing over a BBQ what would happen upon his death. I think it very unlikely that anything of significance was said on any of these occasions, which were essentially of a social character. Paula Arnott said that Mr Singh pointed out that Miss Walsh was protected "as they were in a partnership and that meant 50/50 all the way". He is also said to have claimed that Miss Walsh was the beneficiary of a trust. I did not, however, find Paula Arnott's recollections convincing or reliable and her evidence was coloured by what I find was her assumption that people living in a relationship as partners own everything 50/50.

54. I should also mention that there was an occasion in 2002 when Vale Cottages was put on the market with agents, who wrote to the parties jointly following their meeting with them, and billed the parties jointly. That also was a misperception on the agents' apart, though it is correct that Miss Walsh was instrumental in instructing them with Mr Singh. They were thinking of moving elsewhere. Had they done so, the question of ownership would have needed to be addressed afresh in relation to the new property. As it happens, they did not move.

55. Similarly, there was an occasion in 2004 when Mr Singh remortgaged Vale Cottages to release capital. He discussed this with Miss Walsh and (according to her) assured her that the surplus over the existing mortgage would be out of his share. Miss Walsh claims in these proceedings (as regards any surplus) an equity of exoneration against Mr Singh's share. If of course Miss Walsh (as I find) had no share, no equity of exoneration could arise. However, the importance of the point in the present context is that, if Mr Singh raised the matter in the way related by Miss Walsh, that would have been very significant, as he clearly recognised and acknowledged her existing share. However, the point was not mentioned at all in her first witness statement as it had (she explained) slipped her mind. I find it difficult to accept that a conversation of such significance could have slipped her mind so readily, and it is equally surprising that, if the conversation was as significant as she said it was, there was no written record of it, signed by Mr Singh. In the circumstances, I do not accept that there was a significant conversation on the point, though I am prepared to accept Miss Walsh's evidence to the extent that that Mr Singh mentioned the remortgage, and got her to witness his signature.

56. After the parties split up, Mr Singh and Miss Walsh signed a document (referred to before me as "the Gentleman's Agreement") dated 7th March 2006 concerning the financial consequences of the split, which included a promise by Mr Singh to pay Miss Walsh sums totalling £500,000 over a period of some 2 years. The document has not been honoured and was expressed to be a gesture of goodwill only and not to give rise to any right or entitlement. It was also expressed to be dependent on Mr Singh being able to develop what was called "his home site of Vale Cottages and the adjoining or adjacent fields currently owned or controlled by [Mr Singh]." There is no reference in it to any promise of shared or joint ownership having been made in the past, though the figure of £500,000 must have had some reference to the value of that land, which Miss Walsh claimed was approximately half, but Mr Singh said was much more after taking the mortgages into account. Mr Singh also said that Miss Walsh was claiming half at this time, though she does not appear to have relied upon a promise to that effect. As Mr Roberts for Mr Singh observed, the claim was advanced more as an ancillary relief claim than as a constructive trust claim. Miss Walsh's explanation for the omission to mention the promised half share was that the document was prepared by Mr Singh. I have no doubt that Mr Singh had a significant part to play in the drafting, but so (I find) did Miss Walsh, who prepared it for his signature. It was ultimately a negotiated document. Miss Walsh, though claiming what she saw as a half share, never claimed at that stage to have been made any promise or to have had any understanding or belief about shared or joint ownership, and the absence of such a claim at this time was in my judgment telling.

57. In the circumstances, I reject the claim for an express bargain constructive trust. Mr Singh never promised Miss Walsh a share of Vale Cottages, or the remaining land in Leire, nor did he by words or conduct indicate at any time that she was to have one.

58. None of that is necessarily inconsistent with an implied bargain constructive trust, or a supervening change of common intention. However, on my findings, these alternative claims do not succeed either. Miss Walsh's strongest point was giving up the Bar, but I have found that she chose to do this, albeit so that she could devote herself fully to the equestrian business, in the context of her long-term relationship and intended marriage, and not upon the strength of any belief that she had or would acquire any beneficial interest in Vale Cottages or any of the other land at Leire. The same applies to all other contributions to the Leire project made by her.

59. I accept however that Miss Walsh did, as the letter of 7th March 2007 expressly recognised, make "a significant contribution … towards the ongoing development of the site and the equine/breeding business therein". That did not without more give rise to a constructive trust or proprietary estoppel. Miss Walsh did not see herself as entitled to a half share, and did not act as she did in the belief that she had a share. She acted in the way she did because she was committed to Mr Singh as her partner and (from April 2001) her fiancé, and because she hoped and expected to marry him.

60. I do however need to ask myself why, in those circumstances, Mr Singh signed the letter of 7th March 2006, albeit with all its caveats. In my judgment, he did so because he recognised the significant contribution that Miss Walsh had made, and felt morally obliged to offer her something. He also felt badgered into signing, though I do not think he would have done so, however reluctantly, unless he thought the claim had some moral foundation. None of this leads me to conclude, however, that the parties must be taken to have recognised that there was any basis for a constructive trust or proprietary estoppel claim. There was not, and the letter of 7th March 2006 was not prepared on that basis. Moreover, Mr Singh did take considerable comfort from the fact that the document in its final form was expressly no more than a gesture of goodwill, carrying no right or entitlement, express or implied. It was moreover dependent on unspecified development which, on Mr Singh's then plans, was some time away. I do not think Mr Singh ever thought that he would be likely to honour the Gentleman's Agreement. Nor did Miss Walsh expect him to.

Maintenance Payments
61. Mr Singh did pay significant sums towards Miss Walsh's maintenance following the split, towards rent and other expenditure, totalling a little under £35,000. I find that he did this voluntarily, because he felt morally obliged to help Miss Walsh, given their previous 8 year relationship as (effectively) man and wife.

62. Mr Singh claims to have been misled by Miss Walsh into believing that she had a legal claim against him when she did not, and to have made the maintenance payments in reliance on her advice, which was given as a lawyer. He claims the return of the payments as damages or because she has been unjustly enriched as a result of his mistake, induced by her misrepresentation.

63. I reject these allegations. Mr Singh acted as he did because he felt that Miss Walsh needed some help after the split to re-establish herself in life. I do not accept that Miss Walsh claimed an entitlement, nor was the allegation supported by Mr Singh's witness statement. In that witness statement, he acknowledged that he had told Miss Walsh in the past that he would not see her on the street if they split up. He was merely told by her that she needed maintenance. This was not a claim of right, but a statement of need, and was hardly surprising in the light of the assurances he himself acknowledged. Even if she did make a claim of right, that had no significant effect on Mr Singh, who recognised and responded to the moral claim against him, without the need for a claim of right. Mr Singh is a canny businessman, who appreciated that there were differences between the rights of a wife and a cohabitee, but he is not heartless. He did claim that Miss Walsh exploited his dislike of solicitors by discouraging him from taking advice, but that ultimately was his decision, and he did not need legal advice upon whether or not to help Miss Walsh voluntarily.

64. Moreover, Miss Walsh did not act in her capacity as a lawyer in her dealings with Mr Singh, and no duty of care towards him arose. She was in forensic terms his adversary not his adviser, and he paid the sums he paid freely, and not in reliance on any misrepresentation or bad advice, or as a result of a mistake.

Miss Walsh's Quantum Meruit claim
65. Miss Walsh claims in the alternative a quantum meruit based on unjust enrichment, to reflect the value of her contributions to the Leire project. I reject that claim also. On my findings, Miss Walsh made her contributions voluntarily and not in the expectation of reward, but in the expectation of a long-term relationship and eventual marriage. Had the parties married at or near the outset of their relationship, she would undoubtedly have had a claim for ancillary relief, which I am prepared to assume would have entitled her to a substantial award of something like a half. Unfortunately for Miss Walsh, the parties never married, though the probability is that the wedding plans would have materialised in the summer of 2004 were it not for an unfortunate illness affecting Miss Walsh's mother in 2003. The position is therefore different from cases such as Cobbe v Yeomans Row Management Ltd [2008] 1 WLR 1752 where the Court was able to conclude at [42] that the Claimant never intended to perform his service gratuitously and that the Defendant would be unjustly enriched by the grant of planning permission. Here, Miss Walsh never intended to charge for her services, whether directly, or indirectly by obtaining a share of any of the properties.

66. Moreover, an unjust enrichment claim gets into intractable difficulties in this sort of case as evaluating the extent of the enrichment (as to which the evidence is inadequate, consisting of Miss Walsh's own evaluation of her worth) would in my judgment require the Court to look at how much benefit passed the other way, for Mr Singh cannot be said to have been enriched if overall Miss Walsh has in financial terms cost him more than she has been worth. As it was her case that her running of the equestrian business at a loss was a benefit because it in some way enhanced the value of the Leire project, it may be questioned whether that is a benefit which should be evaluated in disregard of the losses, especially as I am unable to find that the project did in fact benefit to any significant degree from the equestrian business in planning terms. In addition, throughout the relationship Mr Singh spent a considerable amount on Miss Walsh far in excess (Mr Singh would say) than the value of her services. This is a highly undesirable process which the Court can rarely undertake satisfactorily in the context of a domestic relationship. Suffice it to say that on the evidence I have read and heard, I am not satisfied, in the light of the substantial sums expended by Mr Singh for Miss Walsh's benefit, and the inadequacy of her own evidence as to value, that the balance comes down in Miss Walsh's favour. Moreover, Mr Singh has obtained further planning permissions since the relationship ended with Miss Walsh which were not down to her, and all the principal planning permissions were mainly attributable to Mr Singh's efforts.

67. If Miss Walsh's claim was otherwise good in principle, therefore, it would probably fail for want of proof. However, I prefer to rest my decision on the proposition that the claim is bad in principle, as Miss Walsh never intended to act for reward. If dashed expectations of a long-term domestic relationship open the door to unjust enrichment claims, a wide range of claims which the concept of unjust enrichment was never meant, and is ill equipped, to deal with will come marching through.

Contribution Claim
68. Mr Singh by a Counterclaim (as finally formulated) sought a contribution from Miss Walsh to the losses of the equestrian business (said to amount cumulatively to £161,906.03 to December 2006) in the event that she established a partnership (which Mr Roberts contended Miss Walsh's allegation of joint venture would amount to) and contribution by way of equitable accounting to those losses and other sums invested by Mr Singh in the event of Miss Walsh establishing a beneficial interest in any of the properties at Leire. As however Miss Walsh has not established a partnership, or any beneficial interest, these claims do not arise and I need say no more about them.

The Villa in Italy
69. A separate claim arises in respect of a villa in Italy known originally as Localiti Coppo ("the villa"). This villa was acquired in joint names for €40,000, all of which was paid by Mr Singh. However, Miss Walsh paid (in sterling terms) approximately £1,000 towards the costs and other expenses. The villa was purchased in May 2004. The Italian documentation suggests that the parties hold it in equal shares, though I have heard no expert evidence on the meaning and effect of the documentation. The parties proceeded on the basis that English law applied, or that Italian law is presumed to be the same. They both accepted that the starting point was that joint beneficial ownership was presumed, though the presumption is rebuttable. It was conceded that I had jurisdiction.

70. On that basis, I am persuaded that the presumption of joint beneficial ownership (if in truth it arose in this case) was rebutted to the extent only that beneficial ownership was equal rather joint. This is because that is how I can best make sense of the Italian documentation, which appears to deal with the ownership as shared rather than joint. I find therefore that the villa was acquired beneficially in equal shares. It does not seem to me that I can ignore the documentation and treat it as a routine English conveyance when it is not. It may be that the case could have been argued on the basis that the documentation was conclusive of ownership, but, as each side contended otherwise, that was not argued.

71. More importantly, I am not persuaded that beneficial ownership is any different from the paper title. Each party claimed a rebuttal of the presumption in his or her favour. Miss Walsh did so on the basis that the villa was known and perceived by many to have been bought for her, but that does not explain why the parties put the villa into both names. Apart from the £1,000 she expended, she also drove a lorry there to take some furniture, and has used it much more than Mr Singh. It may be that there was a perception that it was hers because it was purchased principally for her enjoyment. The statement was also attributed to Mr Singh from various sources that the villa was a pension for Miss Walsh. However, her half share could have been a pension, and that still begs the question of why the whole villa was not put in Miss Walsh's sole name if it was to be entirely hers without substantial payment on her part. In my judgment, she has not rebutted the presumption arising from the paper title.

72. Mr Singh claimed also that the presumption was rebutted in his favour, based upon the fact that he paid the €40,000. However, he chose to put the villa in both names, as the idea of having a villa in Italy was Miss Walsh's, who was much keener on Italy than he was. Its purchase also coincided roughly with the time when the 33 acres were completed in favour of his SIPP, from which purchase Miss Walsh was excluded. I can see that Mr Singh may have wished to provide some security for Miss Walsh, though not ownership of the whole. In the context of their overall relationship, this was understandable. In the circumstances, the presumption has not been rebutted, and that conclusion is unaffected by the fact that the villa was renamed (as I accept it was) after Mr Singh's mother.

73. Both parties' claims for entire beneficial ownership of the villa are therefore dismissed. I will hear Counsel when this judgment is handed down on whether any further relief is sought in respect of the villa.

The result

74. In the result:-

(i) Miss Walsh's claims in respect of all of the properties at Leire are dismissed.

(ii) Her quantum meruit claim is also dismissed.

(iii) Both parties' claims to exclusive beneficial ownership of the villa are dismissed.

(iv) Miss Walsh is entitled to repayment of the sums of £7,500, and £25,000 with interest.

(v) Miss Walsh is entitled to delivery up of the engagement ring.

(vi) Mr Singh's claim for damages or repayment of the maintenance payments is dismissed.

Handing Down
75. I invite Counsel to agree an Order, if they can. The matter can be listed for a disposal hearing for consequential matters such as the form of order and costs, if that is necessary. If more than 30 minutes is required, or the date and time of handing down is not suitable to the parties and their representatives, no-one need attend the handing down, and a suitable date convenient for all concerned can be arranged.