Equity follows the law: the burden of proof

In Lam Fung Ching Annie v Tse Kwok Wing Jacky ([2016] HKEC 2387, CA) the Court of Appeal rejected an application to appeal to it. L, T and T’s father held property as joint tenants. L severed the joint tenancy by notice and successfully applied for an order for sale. T sought to appeal against this finding and order. It appears to have been accepted that there was an equitable tenancy in common since it was accepted that T held her share on trust for her father. At first instance, the judge rejected T’s argument that her father was the sole beneficial owner; L was able to show that she was entitled to a one-third beneficial interest. There was some discussion as to the burden of proof. The Court of Appeal (Kwan JA giving the judgment) took the view that, following the severance, L had a one third share as a legal tenant in common. It was for T to show why the equitable position should differ from this and she had failed to do so ([22] and [23]).

Michael Lower

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