Chapman v Jaume

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeLord Justice Lewison,Lord Justice Thorpe,Lord Justice Etherton
Judgment Date29 March 2012
Neutral Citation[2012] EWCA Civ 476
Docket NumberCase No: B2/2011/1235
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
Date29 March 2012
Between:
Chapman
Appellant
and
Jaume
Respondents

[2012] EWCA Civ 476

Before:

Lord Justice Thorpe

Lord Justice Etherton

and

Lord Justice Lewison

Case No: B2/2011/1235

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM THE CENTRAL LONDON COUNTY COURT

HH JUDGE HAND QC)

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Mr John McLanachan (instructed by Messrs Pitmans Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the Appellant.

Mr Alan Barton appeared on behalf of the Respondent.

(As Approved)

Lord Justice Lewison
1

Mr Chapman and Mrs Jaume met in 1997 or 1998. Mrs Jaume was married at the time, but her marriage was breaking down. She and her husband had separated and he had moved out of the matrimonial home at 6 The Denningtons in Worcester Park, leaving Mrs Jaume in occupation with her three young daughters.

2

The relationship between Mr Chapman and Mrs Jaume developed gradually. Mr Chapman had his own home at 28 Hansler Road in Dulwich. There was a dispute about how much time Mr Chapman spent at 6 The Denningtons, which Judge Hand QC resolved in Mrs Jaume's favour. He found that by 2001, Mr Chapman was largely living with Mrs Jaume at No 6 The Denningtons. He also found Mr Chapman had based his office at the property in a room that he used for that purpose.

3

In about October 2002, as part of the financial arrangements consequent on her divorce, that property was transferred in Mrs Jaume's sole name. Shortly afterwards, Mr Chapman paid for substantial building works to be carried out to 6 The Denningtons. These included the installation of fire places, the refurbishment of bathrooms and the construction of an extension. According to Mr Chapman, the total expenditure was more than £130,000, although the judge made no findings about the precise quantum.

4

The issue before the judge was: what were the legal consequences of that expenditure? The judge recorded his impression of Mr Chapman and made some findings about his relationship with the family. He said:

"The claimant is, as might be expected of someone who acts as an accountant, a precise man. His schedules and the supporting documents disclose an orderly mind. On the other hand, he is generous and impulsive. He spent considerable sums on the defendant by way of holidays and giving her gifts. In my judgment, he is very single minded. He has his own views on life. He is not interested in family life in the sense that he has no ambition to have children and his involvement with the defendant's children … did not include any financial contribution towards their maintenance. He had a clear view that this was the responsibility of the defendant's former husband. This, of course, is a perfectly acceptable point of view but it seems to be an illustration of his wish to establish clear lines of demarcation. Another illustration of that … was his ability to lock himself away and not be subject to the calls of domestic life outside the door of his office."

5

In his claim form issued on 29 October 2009, Mr Chapman claimed repayment of £162,589.42, "being money lent by the claimant to the defendant between 2001 and 2005 together with interest thereon." This was amplified in paragraph 5 of the Particulars of Claim as follows:

"At all material times, it was expressly agreed in discussions between the claimant and the defendant that the sums spent by the claimant as set out above would be repaid by the defendant upon the sale of the property or upon her youngest child attaining the age of 18, whichever was the earlier."

6

In other words, his primary case was that the money he spent was a loan; and that there were express terms about the time at which it was repayable.

7

The judge recorded the evidence that Mr Chapman gave in support of that case:

"We agreed in 2011, prior to the work commencing on the fireplace and bathrooms, that I should pay for refurbishment of the property and other enhancements such as the plasma TV, now a fixture in the house. Its future sale would provide the initial funds for any future joint purchase. However, should we have separated, she agreed to repay the monies upon future sale or upon the date of her youngest daughter's 18 th birthday, whichever was the earlier. This was agreed before the work commenced on the fireplace and bathrooms and on subsequent occasions and was understood to be the case by both of us. It was not set down in writing but was agreed verbally between us in the course of our conversations…"

8

He amplified the reasoning in other parts of his witness statement. He said:

"I only made the payments for the property to be renovated because I had received the defendant's explicit assurance that the money would be repaid to me in full and I felt and believed that it would be repaid to me in full. I have no doubt that the defendant understood clearly that the money I was to spend on the house was not a gift as she was explicitly told what items given to her were gifts, presents, i.e. cars, watches, jewellery, clothes, holidays, etc."

9

Mrs Jaume's case, on the other hand, was that Mr Chapman paid for the work in lieu of a contribution to the running costs of the household. Her evidence, which the judge recorded, was:

"Then in 2003 Chris announced that the kitchen was far too small for all of us and for entertaining in and that he was going to extend it. He said that I had hassled him for long enough about contributing to the household and this was going to be his contribution."

10

The judge also found that while Mrs Jaume was still embroiled in divorce ancillary relief proceedings, Mr Chapman had lent her £14,000 or thereabouts to pay her legal costs or part of them. Mr Chapman said that this was part of the general agreement. The judge made no finding about that, but he recorded that Mrs Jaume accepted that whether it was a freestanding agreement or part of the general agreement it had happened, and that the money had been repaid.

11

Mr Chapman and Mrs Jaume's relationship came to an end in 2006. The judge recorded evidence that on 24 August 2006 Mrs Jaume came to 28 Hansler Road using very bad language. The judge found that some such incident did take place, but he was not satisfied that the witness who gave evidence about it had accurately recalled the actual words in which the argument between them took place.

12

In 2009 Mr Chapman instructed solicitors. On 20 March 2009 his solicitors attempted to enter a unilateral notice at Her Majesty's Land Registry. The form used was form UN1, which requires the applicant to justify the entry of such a notice. In this case the form said:

"The applicant has acquired a beneficial interest in the property as he has financed an extension to the...

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