HA v WA v BV  EWFC 11027 September 2022
Published: 11/11/2022 09:00
Sir Jonathan Cohen. Issue between the parties in relation to beneficial ownership of a property held in the W’s sole name. H’s case was that the property belonged legally and beneficially to the W, where the W’s case was that the property was beneficially owned by her brother ‘B’.
It was agreed between the parties that the purchase monies came entirely from B’s sterling account in Russia and that neither W or H paid anything towards the purchase price.
Essentially a factual dispute which required the judge to consider which party he believed.
H, W and B gave evidence along with the tax advisor, a partner from the firm of solicitors and the property advisor.
The judge considered prior financial conduct of the parties, i.e. that B had previously gifted a large amount of money to the W and had enacted a ‘donation agreement’ in respect of that but no such agreement was in place for the property, and that B had placed funds into a sterling account with an intention of purchasing property in London a few years prior. In addition, the W had sufficient funds in her own account to purchase the property and therefore did not need a gift from B. In addition, the concept of ‘beneficial ownership’ is not present in Russian law; W, H and B all being Russian.
Notwithstanding the lack of documentary evidence in support of their case, the judge found for the W.