Always Ensure that there are Clear Ownership Documents for your Property
A couple who dispensed with professional advice came frighteningly close to being evicted from their family home and losing over a million Euros in the process.
The case concerned a flat that had been occupied by the couple and their children for many years. They did so informally and, having taken no legal advice, there was no single document that recorded the basis on which they lived there. The registered proprietor of the flat was an offshore company that was wholly owned by a man with whom the husband had been on friendly terms.
After the two men fell out, however, the company launched possession proceedings in respect of the flat and served the couple with notice to quit. The wife claimed that she had purchased the former friend’s entire shareholding in the company, but there was no formal documentation to support that assertion. The former friend denied that any share purchase transaction had ever taken place.
In ruling on the dispute, the High Court preferred the couple’s evidence to that of the former friend. There had been an agreement that the wife would purchase his shares in the company and he had been paid for them in full. After the former friend said that he preferred to be paid offshore, the husband had arranged, at his request, the payment of Euros 1,081,032 in three tranches to an overseas company. The Court found that the wife was the beneficial owner of the company and, indirectly, the flat. The possession proceedings were, in the circumstances, dismissed.
Dondore Incorporated & Anr v Fetaimia & Anr