Binions v Evans
|Binions v Evans|
|Court||Court of Appeal|
|Citation(s)|| EWCA Civ 6,  Ch 359|
Mr and Mrs Binions promised the trustees of Tredegar Estate to allow Mrs Evans to remain in her cottage for life when they bought the property from Tredegar Estate. She had been widowed and was said to be a ‘tenant at will’.
|“||Suppose, however, that the widow did not have an equitable interest at the outset, nevertheless it is quite plain that she obtained one afterwards when the Tredegar Estate sold the cottage. They stipulated with the purchaser that he was to take the house “subject to” the widow’s rights under the agreement. They supplied the purchaser with a copy of the contracts and the purchaser paid less because of her right to stay there. In these circumstances, this Court will impose on the purchaser a constructive trust for her benefit: for the simple reason that it would be utterly inequitable for the purchaser to turn the widow out contrary to the stipulation subject to which he took the premises. That seems to me clear from the important decision of Bannister v Bannister (1948) 2 AER 137, which was applied by the Judge, and which I gladly follow.
This imposing of a constructive trust is entirely in accord with the precepts of equity. As Mr. Justice Cardozo once put it: “A constructive trust is the formula through which the conscience of equity finds expression”, see Beatty v Guggenheim & Co (1919) 225 N.Y. 380, 385: or, as Lord Diplock put it quite recently, a constructive trust is created “whenever the trustee has so conducted himself that it would be inequitable to allow him to deny to the cestui que trust a beneficial interest in the land acquired”, see Gissing v Gissing (1970) W.L.R. at page 267-F.
A contractual licence is itself an equitable interest in land.
Megaw LJ held that Mrs Evans had rather an equitable life interest, more than a contractual licence. He noted the possibility of a tort being commissioned if someone knowingly acquires a right with the intention of not allowing someone to exercise their contractual right. ‘However, it may be that there are special technical considerations in the law relating to land that would require to be reviewed before one could confidently assert that the ordinary principles as to the protection of known contractual rights would apply.’
-  Ch 359, 367
-  Ch 359, 371