In 2011 five solicitors, Ian, Geoffrey, Ursula, Venus and Adam purchased Mephistopheles House as a place to stay in London during the week as they worked too many hours each day at Faust plc, a solicitors’ firm, to commute from their homes in the country. Ian and Geoffrey each paid 40% of the purchase price and Ursula 20% (Ursula’s money coming from her mother Juliet who was promised that she could live in the house if she wished), whilst Venus and Adam paid nothing. The house was conveyed to the five of them as beneficial joint tenants.
In 2015 Ian went to work abroad. He sent a letter to Ursula, Geoffrey, Venus and Adam saying that he wanted Mephistopheles House to be sold immediately so that he could ‘take his 40%’. The note was sent by standard post to Mephistopheles House and was opened by Ursula who immediately threw it away without showing it to the others. On emptying the bin Venus discovered the note and sent an email, which she mistakenly sent to everyone at Faust plc, telling them that she was hurt not to have been consulted and had consequently decided to sell her share of Mephistopheles House with immediate effect. However a few days later she discovered she was pregnant and decided not to go through with her plans to leave.
In January 2016 Ursula died in a car crash on the way to the christening of Venus’s daughter. Her will left all of her property to Geoffrey. Deeply upset by the death of Ursula, Geoffrey began to drink and gamble heavily, ultimately becoming bankrupt in December 2016, committing suicide on the morning of the bankruptcy hearing.
You are consulted by Ian, who has returned to the UK in January 2017 and wants to resume living in Mephistopheles House. However, Adam has told him that, since being made redundant, he has agreed to sell Mephistopheles House to Daniel, although Venus is currently refusing to move out.
Answer all three of the following:
Qu.1 What is the effect of the above events on the legal estate and equitable interests in Mephistopheles House; and
Qu.2 Is Adam entitled to exclude Ian and Venus from living there and is there is anything Ian can do to prevent a sale.
Qu.3 Daniel has consulted you about his proposed purchase. What ought Daniel to be aware of in respect of the conveyancing process as regards this estate?