The case concerned a couple who married in the Ukraine in 1986 and had had two children. They entered into a deed which set out the husband’s (“H”) would pay the mortgage on two properties which were being transferred to wife (“W”) as well as detailed maintenance arrangements.
W sought to enforce that agreement in addition to damages as H had not adhered to the terms of the agreement.
The judge held that the deed was a valid and enforceable contract. W was entitled to damages given H’s repudiation.
The Deed was enforceable for the following reasons
- H had known the effect of the document he was signing.
- H’s asking for amendments to be made demonstrated he had understood what he was signing.
- H’s English was good enough to understand what he was signing.
- There was no evidence that his mental state stopped him from understanding what he was signing.
- H was “not the sort of person to sign anything without understanding what he was being asked to sign”.
- There were no overt acts of improper pressure or coercion such as unlawful threats to suggest actual undue influence.
- To show implied undue influence, H would need to “establish a relationship of confidence and a transaction which calls for an explanation for which no explanation is forthcoming”. He had failed to establish either and it was stated that the couple were actually “independent of each other”.
- Although H did not have the benefit of legal advice, he could not be considered a poor or ignorant person; he was a seasoned businessman and politician who had acquired considerable wealth .
As a result, the judge awarded W over £2 million in damages, demonstrating the court’s unwillingness to set aside a contract without good reason.
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