In the year 2000, there were three sisters Hermione, Iris and Jocasta, who inherited their mother's house property. The house was transferred in their joint names and they simultaneously gladly occupied their respective portions. A squabble broke out between Hermione and Iris which resulted in the former moving out of her mother's premises in 2006. Hermione proceeded towards a solicitor who advised her to serve a notice under Section 36(2) pertaining to the Law of Property Act 1925 against her two other sisters. Hermione signed the letter and the solicitor posted it. Paradoxically, Hermione came to terms with Iris because she had had a terrible accident. Soon after this compromise, the letter arrived. Hermione was wise enough and therefore, tore up the letter when delivered, without her sisters knowing about its existence. In 2007, Iris returned to the house, feeling very depressed. She made a suicide pact with Jocasta and together took an overdose of painkillers. When Hermione entered the house, she found both sisters unconscious and called for an ambulance. On its way to the hospital, the ambulance ran over Hermione and killed her. Iris was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital and Jocasta's recovery was a slow process but, she sailed through and recovered completely. Iris had not left a will so a complex situation did not arise. Whereas, Hermione had left a will stating that her share in the house was to be given to her cousin Liam. Incidentally, a copy of the letter signed by Hermione in 2006 was found in the solicitor's files. Therefore, one needs to identify the nature and the extent of Jocasta's interests and rights in the house. In order to do so, we are going to focus on every step wherein the ownership of the house changed from time to time. Thereafter, we will deduce and then identify the subsequent consequences for Jocasta.
[...] There is no right of survivorship and only the unity of possession is required in tenancy in common. According to Kevin Gray & Susan Francis Gray, severing tenant will take 1/nth of the property beneficially, where n is the current number of the joint tenants”. Therefore, in our case it means that in 2006, Hermione is in possession of a third of the house as a one- third share, but Jocasta and Iris still are joint tenants of the other two third of the house in equity. [...]
[...] However in 2006, after an argument with Iris, Hermione decided to move out of the house. The solicitor she contacted, Kenneth, advised her to serve notice under s.36 Law of Property Act 1925 (LPA 1925) on her two sisters, in order to sever her interest. Section 36(2) LPA 1925 states that: severance of a joint tenancy [ ] shall be permissible, but this subsection does not affect the right of a joint tenant the right to sever in an equitable interest. [...]
[...] However, in Dunbar v. Plant, where the defendant had made a suicide pact with her fiancé but survived and was therefore entitled to the house which they had jointly owned and to the proceeds of an insurance policy written for her benefit, it was hold that had aided and abetted suicide therefore the forfeiture rule applied [ ] the fact that in the case of the survivor of a suicide pact the public interest would not normally call for forfeiture, the court would order that there should be full relief against the effect of the forfeiture rule”. [...]
[...] In addition, a copy of the letter signed by Hermione in 2006 was found in the solicitor's files. Therefore, we have to indentify the nature and the extent of the interests of Jocasta in the house. In order to do so, we are going to focus on every step where the ownership of the house changed in the time, and then identify its consequences for Jocasta. In 2000, the three sisters inherited the house from their mother. It is said that the house transferred in their joint names”. [...]
[...] Therefore, even if Hermione tore up the letter when she discovered that Iris had an accident, her letter of notice was duly posted and then the severance was effective. Severance separates off an equal aliquot share for the severing joint tenant. Severance is the process by which joint tenancy is convertible into tenancy in common. By sending this written notice of severance, Hermione created for her a tenancy in common, but let Jocasta and Iris be in a joint tenancy. Tenancy in common is a “form of co-ownership in which the co- owners distinct shares or notional proportions of entitlement”. [...]
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