The Court of Appeal has just found that a cohabiting couple should be held to a 9 year old agreement even though it was never recorded in a formal document.
This is an interesting twist in the ever evolving law surrounding couples who live together but are not married.
The reasoning by the judge in this case centred around the couple (Graham Ely and Vanessa Robson) having both reached a clear agreement. It was set out in a letter that envisaged drawing up a formal agreement, but that drafting/preparation never quite happened. Crucially the couple then acted consistently with that common understanding so were held to it despite one of them challenging this.
Ultimately, in my experience, most people would prefer not to have to go through the cost and delays caused by protracted proceedings though various courts like this couple. This could have been prevented by having prepared a formal agreement at the time, just as they originally intended.
Thereafter, so the judge found, Mr Ely relied upon the oral agreement by not pursuing his claim in respect of 6 Torbay Road or his claims in respect of 37 Ashley Road and 89 Bournemouth Road, and by permitting Ms Robson to continue to live in 6 Torbay Road during the lifetimes of Vera Ellis and Peggy Robson. These findings too are, in my judgment, unassailable. In my judgment it follows that, from the time they met in Poole Park, Ms Robson and Mr Ely had a common understanding as to the extent of their respective interests in 6 Torbay Road and thereafter Mr Ely acted to his detriment in reliance upon that understanding.