Emma Walker, a solicitor in our wills and probate team at Watson Ramsbottom looks at what happens when there is no evidence to substantiate verbal promises between two parties.
People frequently promise to do things for other people and then break their word…or at least other people say they have. When the promise is important and an argument ensues that ends up in court, the decision will be based not on any moral position but on what the evidence says.
Recently, the ex-partner of a wealthy woman lodged a claim against her for a third of the value of her assets. His argument was that the two had had a committed relationship which was intended to last and that he had done a great deal of refurbishment work at three properties she owned on the understanding that he would have a share in them if they were sold. The woman denied that such a promise was ever made. As is always the case in such circumstances, the court looked at the external independent evidence: in particular, whether there were any written agreements. In this instance there were none, nor any credible third party evidence.
In the absence of any compelling evidence that any promises had been made, the High Court rejected the man’s claim and the Court of Appeal upheld that decision on appeal.
Emma Walker, a solicitor in our wills and probate team at Watson Ramsbottom commented “It is surprising indeed that this case went as far as the Court of Appeal. In similar circumstances, getting credible documentary evidence, such as a contract or deed of trust, to confirm the position is just common sense.”
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