Parrott v Parkin, Court of Appeal - Admiralty Division, February 08, 2007, [2007] 1 Lloyd's Rep 719,[2007] EWHC 210 (Admlty)

Resolution Date:February 08, 2007
Issuing Organization:Admiralty Division
Actores:Parrott v Parkin
 
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Neutral Citation Number: [2007] EWHC 210 (Admlty)Case No: 2005/321IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICEQUEEN'S BENCH DIVISIONADMIRALTY COURTRoyal Courts of JusticeStrand, London, WC2A 2LL8th February 2007Before :THE HONOURABLE MR JUSTICE AIKENS- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Between :- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Mr John Brooke-Smith (instructed by Pleass Thomson & Company, Solicitors,) for the ClaimantMr Philip Riches (instructed by Lester Aldridge, Solicitors, Southampton) for the DefendantHearing dates: 5th, 6th and 7th February 2007- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -JudgmentDraft 15 February 2007 08:41 Page 16Mr Justice Aikens : 1. In this action the claimant, Linda Marie Parrott, claims a declaration that the defendant, Mark Trevor Parkin, holds the motor yacht ``UP YAWS'' on trust for the claimant absolutely. The Claim Form also asks for an order that the claimant be given possession of the vessel and that the vessel be sold. The yacht, which I shall refer to as ``the vessel'', is currently moored at Willows Riverside Park, Windsor. She was built of fibreglass construction in 1999. In October 2006 she was inspected by Mr Andrew Pearson, a yacht surveyor and consultant and partner in John Winterbotham and Partners. In his report prepared for these proceedings he described the vessel as being of ``cosmetically moderate - poor appearance''. He estimated the open market value of the vessel in her present condition at £75,000. However it was his view that if some £7,000 to £10,000 were spent in order to bring the yacht up to typical condition for a well kept yacht of her age, then her open market value would be in the order of £120,000. 2. In order to deal with the claim and the defendant's case, which is that he is both the legal and beneficial owner of the vessel, I will have to set out a great deal of background facts. This is because the purchase of the vessel was only one in a long series of events in the history of the relationship between Miss Parrott and Mr Parkin, which goes back to late 1983. I. The facts: The purchase of 6 Long Drive3. Miss Parrott was born on 8th November 1956. She is now 50. Mr Parkin was born on 6th April 1960. He is now 46. The parties met in the early 1980s, probably in late 1983. At the time, Mr Parkin was a pop musician and in a rock band. Miss Parrott joined the band as a keyboard player. The parties formed a relationship in 1984. They began living, with others, in a rented flat in Acton. At the time both were unemployed and on benefit. The couple subsequently moved to a flat in Ealing. 4. In 1987 Miss Parrott started work (at first on a temporary basis) as a Personal Assistant to the marketing director of Harp Lager. Mr Parkin continued his musical interests. He had no regular income. 5. In 1991, Miss Parrott and Mr Parkin decided to buy a house. In September 1991, 6 Long Drive, Greenford, Middlesex, was purchased. (I will refer to this property as ``6LD''). The house was not in good condition. The purchase was made in the sole name of Miss Parrott. The purchase price was £71,500. The reason for the house being registered in the sole name of Miss Parrott is in dispute. However, I am satisfied, having heard evidence from both parties, that the principal reason was that Mr Parkin was not in employment at the time and that he had no regular income. He had, in fact, just started business as a stained glass artist and he therefore had no accounts to show the bank or building society at the time. I am satisfied, on the evidence, that it was Miss Parrott who dealt with all the mechanics of the purchase.6. A deposit of £3,750 was paid. £3,000 of this deposit was provided by Mr Parkin's father, Mr Rex Parkin. It is clear from Mr Parkin Senior's letter to Miss Parrott and Mr Parkin, dated 3rd August 1991, that the sum of £3,000 was provided as a loan. The letter states that the loan was being ``handed over to someone in the formal sense outside the family''. The letter continues:``The problem as to who repays it you must sort out between you. You will hopefully end up with one roof over both your heads and the liability to keep it there falls on you both, but the legal liability for repaying this loan is clearly Linda's''.7. In a further letter of the same date from Mr Parkin Senior to Mr Parkin (junior) and Miss Parrott, Mr Parkin Senior asks Miss Parrott to sign a Promissory Note. The letter sets out the terms of the loan. These are:``1. The loan is short-term and should be repaid in full by 7th August 1992 or earlier.2. No interest will become due if repaid in due by 7th August 1992. Any unpaid balance at that date shall have interest charged from 7th August 191 up to the date of repayment at the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) applicable on an Access loan at 7th August 1992. 3. The money shall only be used for house purchase.4. Your acceptance of these terms shall be acknowledged by signing and returning this document.''Underneath that there is a space for Miss Parrott to sign the document.8. Miss Parrott did sign a Promissory Note. In the bundle (B13) the Promissory Note is dated 5th August 1991. The Promissory Note states:``On demand I Linda Parrott promise to pay to Rex Leon Parkin ...... the sum of £3,000 and hereby acknowledge receipt of the sum of £2,000 thereof.''The Promissory Note identifies 6LD as the property to be purchased. Miss Parrott's signature is witnessed by Patricia Mudie. 9. It is convenient to complete the history of this loan. It was not repaid by August 1992. However, on 1st March 1993, Mr Parkin Senior wrote to Mr Mark Parkin. The letter starts:``Dear MarkWe have decided to alter the basis of the £3,000 loaned to you and Linda and treat it as a gift''.The letter goes on to explain that a similar loan to another son was being converted into a gift and, ``to even things out'', a present of the same amount would be given to a third son. The letter also states that it would not be possible for Mr Parkin Senior to give Mark Parkin ``any further help'', because that would mean that Mr Parkin Senior's income from his savings would fall to an unacceptably low level. I will have to deal with the legal analysis and effect of the initial loan and the waiver of repayment later on in this judgment. 10. I return to the purchase of 6LD. The source of the balance for the deposit (i.e. the remaining £575.00) is in issue. Miss Parrott says it came from her savings. Mr Parkin says that this sum came from ``our own money''. I find that the bulk of this sum came from Miss Parrott. I also find that Miss Parrott paid for the legal fees and disbursements, land registry fees and stamp duty. 11. The balance of the purchase price, i.e. £67,925 was raised by a loan secured by a mortgage on 6LD and an endowment insurance policy. The loan was provided by Abbey National. I have not seen the mortgage deed but I am satisfied that it is in the sole name of the claimant, so that she is, legally speaking, solely liable to Abbey National to repay the loan in accordance with the terms of the mortgage.12. Having heard Miss Parrott and Mr Parkin give their evidence, I am satisfied that neither before nor at the time of the purchase of 6LD, was there any express discussion between them which might constitute an agreement or arrangement or understanding as to the beneficial interests of the two parties in 6LD. There was simply no evidence of any kind of discussion, whether imperfectly remembered or otherwise, or whether precise or imprecise as to its terms. (See the speech of Lord Bridge of Harwich in Lloyds Bank plc v Rosset [1991] 1 AC 107 at 132). 13. Immediately following the purchase of 6LD, Mr Parkin worked on the property to get it into a state so that the parties could move in to the house. This work took about 2 weeks. When they had moved in, Mr Parkin began his work as a stained glass artist and he ran this business from the garage of the property. Miss Parrott continued to be in employment and her career went well. By May 2000 she had become a ``Human Resources manager'' on a salary of £40,000. Subsequently, in June 2002, she became a director of Human Resources. 14. From the time that the parties moved into 6LD the mortgage payments were paid from a bank account in the sole name of Miss Parrott. There is a dispute as to whether Mr Parkin contributed to the mortgage payments at all. It is common ground that Mr Parrott paid a sum for the use and occupation of the parts of the property on which he carried on his business. I am satisfied that Mr Parkin did pay cheques to Miss Parrott from time to time, although not regularly. These cheques (none of which were in evidence) were for varying sums, none of which have been specifically identified. However, I am satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the sums were intended to include a figure for ``rent'' of the business premises, gas, electricity and a contribution towards house insurance. 15. It was Mr Parkin's evidence that these sums were to go directly to assist in the mortgage repayments. However, there is no evidence before me about what happened to these sums. I have not seen any of the bank accounts of Miss Parrott and I have been unable to make any assessment of whether or not the sums were in fact, used towards paying off the mortgage, as opposed to paying for other, more general, household expenses. 16. When the parties moved into 6LD, it was in a poor state of repair. I am satisfied that Mr Parkin did a great deal of work on the house, both immediately after purchase (and before they moved into the house) and thereafter, in order to improve the condition of the property. I have seen a photograph of the kitchen ``before'' and ``after'' work done by Mr Parkin. I am prepared to accept that Miss Parrott assisted in some of this work, but I find that the vast majority of it, as listed in the schedule prepared...

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