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WHAT CONSTITUTES A RESULTING TRUST – CANNOT RELY ON RESULTING TRUST IF NOT PLEADED

Dictum

For the definition of what constitutes resulting trust see the case of Shephard vs. Cartwright (1995) AC 431 at 445. See also Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th edition at page 1315. As clearly illustrated in the leading judgment of my learned brother, Tobi, JSC, there are no hard and fast rules about what amounts to resulting trust especially as it relates to land. Where it arises, the claimant of the piece of land must prove by hard and concrete evidence that he actually owned and/or was entitled to the land but voluntarily or involuntarily opted that the Title Deed or Deed of Assignment be made in favour of another in anticipation of a marriage of whatever the case may be. Where a party as in the instant case, fails to properly plead the issue of resulting trust (or any other trust) he cannot raise the issue at the address stage or on appeal as the evidence or arguments or submissions on facts not hitherto pleaded, go to no issue.

— Onu, JSC. Ezennah v Atta (2004) – SC.226/2000

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THE THREE ELEMENTS OF A TRUST

Trust involves three elements, namely:- 1. A trustee, who holds the trust property and is subject to equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another. 2. A beneficiary to whom the trustee owes equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit. 3 Trust property, which is held by the trustee for the beneficiary. See Black’s Law Dictionary, Page 1513.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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CONSTRUCTIVE TRUSTS – EQUITY WILL NOT ALLOW LEGAL OWNER RETAIN BENEFICIAL INTEREST

A constructive or implied trust is the formula through which the conscience of equity finds expression. When property has been acquired in such circumstance that the holder of the legal title may not in good conscience retain the beneficial interest, equity converts him into a trustee. See Beatty v Guggenheim Exploration Co. 122 N.E 378, Black’s Law Dictionary 7th Edition, Page 1513.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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CONSTRUCTIVE TRUSTS ON VALIDITY OF TITLE DOCUMENTS

Trust is defined at page 1513 of the Blacks Law Dictionary, 7th Edition as the right enforceable solely in equity to the beneficial enjoyment of property to which another person holds the legal title. Where a party claims certain property that is held in constructive trust for his own benefit, he has a duty to prove that the title document in possession of the trustee is valid and in proper custody. The moment he successfully contradicts and renders the title document in the name of the trustee invalid, his claim automatically fails, since the success of his claim depends largely on the validity of the documents of title in the name of the trustee.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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RESULTING TRUST IS TRUST IMPLICIT IN THE CONDUCT OF PARTIES

Resulting Trust is a trust that can be readily deduced as being implicit in the conduct of parties but without express intent. Black’s Law Dictionary relies on the definition of a resulting trust as made out in the case of Lifemark Corp. vs. Newit Jx. App. 14 Dist, 655 SW. 2d 310, 316 as a’ “trust that arises where a person makes or causes to be made a disposition of property under circumstances which raise an inference that he does not intend that person taking or holding that property should have the beneficial interest therein, unless inference is rebutted or the beneficial interest is otherwise effectively disposed of’.

— Pats-Acholonu, JSC. Ezennah v Atta (2004) – SC.226/2000

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ONCE THERE IS A VALID CONTRACT FOR SALE, THE VENDOR BECOMES A TRUSTEE

Jessel, MR in Lysaght v. Edwards (1876) CH.D 499 stated the following on the doctrine of constructive trust:- “What is that doctrine? It is that the moment you have a valid contract for sale, the vendor becomes in equity a trustee for the purchase of the estate sold and the beneficial ownership passes to the purchaser, the vendor having a right to the purchase money, and a right to retain possession of the estate until the purchase money is paid in the absence of express contract as to the time of delivering possession … If anything happens to the estate between the time of sale and the time of completion of the purchase, it is at the risk of the purchaser; if it is a house to be sold and the house is burnt down, the purchaser looses the house. He must insure it himself if he wants to prevent such an accident. If it is a garden and river overflows its bank without any fault of the vendor, the garden will be ruined, but the loss will be the purchaser’s.”

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WHAT IS A RESULTING TRUST

Now, what is resulting trust? An implied trust or resulting trust is a trust founded upon the unexpressed intention of the settlor. One example of such a situation is where a purchased property is conveyed into the name of someone other than the purchaser or where, as in this case, a person applies for leasehold of a right of occupancy in the name of another person. The clear result of such cases is that the benefit accrues to the person who advances the money. Further, the same situation would arise even if the advancement of money is indirect, as where one party pays expenses which the other would otherwise have had to pay.

– Musdapher, JSC. Atta v. Ezeanah (2000)

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