A court has ruled a firm was not negligent in the advice it gave a couple who were dividing their shares in a property, after the judge said the firm did not need to advise them to seek separate advice.
In Turner v Bromets Jackson Heath & Ors, Kim Turner contended that Yorkshire firm Bromet & Sons was negligent in the advice it gave her on a declaration of trust after she invested £20,000 in a property owned by her partner in 2005.
Turner contended that the firm, now Bromets Jackson Heath, had not explained the declaration of trust before she signed it. She also said the firm should have appreciated there was a ‘significant risk’ of conflict of interest between her and her husband.
Her lawyer made it clear that no claim was being pursued against Bromets Jackson Heath.
The declaration of interest calculated that Turner’s share of the property was £20,000, while her partner, Mr Millington, who had purchased the house in 2000 with a deposit of around £50,000, had a £160,486 stake in the property. It said that she would get half the share of any increase in the property’s value when it was sold.
When Turner invested the £20,000 in the property in 2005, Millington instructed a solicitor at Bromets, who had acted for him in the original purchase, to draw up a declaration of interest.
After the couple’s relationship broke down in 2012 Turner received £25,500 in a settlement from Millington. She contends that she would have received a better settlement if she had not executed the declaration of trust.
But Judge Behrens (pictured), sitting in Leeds County Court, said that Turner was given a full explanation of the declaration of trust and that she had understood her position and agreed to it.
He also ruled that Bromets was entitled to conclude that there was not a conflict of interest between Turner and Millington, and so had no duty to advise her to seek to separate advice.
The judge said that even if she had received separate advice he was satisfied that she still would have signed the declaration.
The negligence claim was dismissed on both counts.