A Smorgasbord of Principles—De Facto Spouses and the Matrimonial Home

Publication Date01 September 1980
DOI10.1177/0067205X8001100307
AuthorJohn H. Wade
Date01 September 1980
SubjectComment
COMMENT
ASMORGASBORD
OF
PRINCIPLES-DE
FACTO
SPOUSES
AND
THE
MATRIMONIAL HOME
By
JOHN
H. WADE·
The observation has been made in Australia, England and the United
States of America that where there
is
aproperty dispute between an
unmarried couple, there
is
agrowing number of legal concepts which
potentially can be argued in relation to the same fact situation.! These
include at least: express, implied and constructive trusts;2 express and
implied contract;B proprietary estoppel;" quasi-contract;5 the tort of
deceit;6 implied partnership? and unjust enrichment.sNo doubt there
are others. No one concept provides apanacea, despite the exhortations
of disciples of each discipline.9The moral is that multiple legal concepts
should be presented to ajudge
in
any particular case, as no single legal
concept will be satisfactory for all fact situations involving property
disputes between de facto spouses. In Hardwick
v.
Johnson
10
Roskill L.I.
*LL.B., Dip.Jur. (Syd.), LL.M. (U.B.C.); Senior Lecturer, Faculty
of
Law,
University
of
Sydney.
1E.g. Bailey, "Recent Cases: Chandler
v.
Kerley" (1979)
53
A.L.J. 92;
Hardwick
v.
lohnson [1978] 2All E.R. 935, 938h, 940e.
2E.g. Allen
v.
Snyder [1977] 2N.S.W.L.R. 685.
3E.g. Tanner v. Tanner [1975] 1W.L.R. 1346; Pearce
v.
Pearce [1977] 1
N.S.W.L.R. 170.
"Pascoe
v.
Turner [1979] 2All E.R. 945; Davies, "Informal Arrangements
A1fecting Land" (1979) 8Sydney Law Review 578.
aShaw
v.
Shaw [1954] 2Q.D. 429; Stinchcombe
v.
Thomas [1957] V.R. 509;
Deglman
v.
Guaranty Trust Co. 0/ Canada [1954) 3D.L.R. 78S.
eE.g. Pearce
v.
Pearce [1977] 1N.S.W.L.R. 170; Eves v. Eves [1975] 3All
B.R.768.
'1
E.g. Bruch, "Property Rights
of
De Facto Spouses Including Thoughts on the
Value
of
Homemakers' Services" (1976) 10 Family Law Quarterly 101; Steinem,
"The Implied Partnership" (1974) 26 University
of
Florida Law Review 221;
Chaachou
v.
Chaachou (1961) 136 So. (2d) 206.
8Goff and Jones, The Law 0/ Restitution (2nd ed. 1978); Waters, "Matrimonial
Property Disputes-Resulting and Constructive Trusts-Restitution"
(1975)
S3
Canadian Bar Review 366.
9E.g. Atiyah, "When
is
an
Enforceable Agreement Not aContract? Answer:
When it is
an
Equity" (1976) 92 L.Q.R. 174 (in praise
of
contract); Oughten,
"Proprietary Estoppel: APrincipled Remedy" (1979) 129 New Law Journal
1193, Davies, "Informal Arrangements Affecting Land" (1979) 8Sydney Law
Review 578 (in praise
of
proprietary estoppel); Waddams, "Legislation and
Contract Law" (1979)
17
University
of
Western Ontario Law Review 185;
Waddams, "Unconscionability
in
Contracts" (1976) 39 Modem Law Review 369
(unconscionability).
10
[1978] 2All E.R. 935.
ct.
Crabb
v.
Arun
District Council [1976] Ch. 179,
193
per Scarman L.J.:
"I
do not think that, in solving the particular problem
raised
by
aparticular case, putting the law into categories
is
of
the slightest
assistance"; Marvin
v.
Marvin (1976) 557 P. 2d 106, 123,
n.25
per Tobriner I.:
"Our opinion does not preclude the evolution
of
additional equitable remedies to
protect the expectations
of
the parties
to
anonmarital relationship in cases in
which existing remedies prove inadequate; the suitability
of
such remedies may be
346

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