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Court of Appeal rules that property is not held on trust (North v Wilkinson)


Author: Mark Fitch

Disputes, Legal Updates, Wills, Tax and Probate

Mark Fitch, Partner, Dispute Resolution and Mediation specialist at Hatch Brenner Solicitors on Theatre Street in Norwich, recently acted for the successful appellant in North v Wilkinson, a case disputing property held on trust.

John North, an inventor, had sought financial backing from nine investors for the creation of a drilling device for the manufacture of domestic goods. The technology was used by a manufacturer without Mr North’s permission, resulting in a court case that awarded him £18m in damages.

Following this, the investors claimed they had been promised a return on their investments; the £18m represented the fruits of that investment, so they were entitled to a share. Evidence in support of this was produced in the form of documents, which reportedly demonstrate this intention.

Read more: Hatch Brenner Solicitor Helps Secure a £5.2m Settlement for M11 RTA Victim

The case was initially seen by the England and Wales High Court, which ruled in the favour of the investors.

However, the Court of Appeal overturned this verdict in favour of North for a number of reasons, not least that there were considerable difficulties in the way a sole trader attempted to create a trust of a share of his business.

Mark Fitch commented: “North v Wilkinson emphasises the requisite presence of the three certainties (namely of intention, subject matter and object) when claiming to be the beneficiary of a trust.

"A court will be prepared to take on a degree of exploration to satisfy itself of the certainty but, without clear evidence, no trust will be found. Bearing in mind the significant and generally irreversible consequences of being party to a trust, this reminder is likely to be welcomed by practitioners across the profession.”

For a full copy of the LexisNexis article including the background and details of the court’s decision, click here: North v Wilkinson

If you have questions about property held on trust, please contact Mark Fitch by email markfitch@hatchbrenner.co.uk or call 01603 660 811.

Image credit: Anthony Majanlahti

Mark Fitch Dispute Resolution and Mediation Specialist in Norwich

Mark Fitch, Partner, Hatch Brenner Solicitors

Court Of Appeals

Court of Appeal

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