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Appeal judge says property laws unfair for cohabiting couples


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13 Feb 2013

An appeal court judge has said that property laws for unmarried couples who live together are unfair, and women are often left with nothing after separating from their partners.

Lord Justice Toulson spoke out after hearing the case of Pamela Curran, 55, who said she had been “stripped of everything” when her relationship broke down after more than 30 years.

Miss Curran and Brian Collins had been together since the late 1970s, and worked together at Mr Collins’ kennels and cattery business.

However, when their relationship ended in 2010, a county court judge ruled that Miss Curran had no right to a share in the business or the home where they had lived together, effectively leaving her penniless.

Lord Judge Toulson subsequently granted Miss Curran permission to appeal the ruling, commenting: "Sadly, the appellant found herself in the classic position of a woman jilted in her early 50s, having very much made her life wLawson-West Solicitorsith the respondent for over 30 years...The law of property can be harsh on people, usually women, in that situation. Bluntly, the law remains unfair to people in the appellant's position, but the judge was constrained to apply the law as it is."

In Court Miss Curran explained that she had "trusted" in Mr Collins, and believed that she would be given a "fair share" of the property and business if their relationship ever ended. It was originally purchased in Mr Collins’ name for a combined total of £750,000.

Lord Judge Toulson said: "Judges ought not to be affected by human sympathies, they must apply the law as they see it. It was extremely difficult not to be affected by a sense that the appellant has, in truth, been treated unfairly.”

Making a living together agreement formalises your claim to property in the case of relationship breakdown. If you’d like advice on co-habitation and your legal rights please contact family law solicitors Alistair Dobson or Janet Hopkins at Lawson-West on 0116 212 1000.

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Lawson-West specialise in commercial, business and employment law. Our team of dedicated commercial solicitors can help with buying or selling a business, business law and disputes, landlord and tenant issues and commercial property. Our expert employment team can offer practical advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law including redundancy, compromise agreements and dismissal procedures. Visit for more information.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-03-19 12:34:58 in Legal Articles

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