Fraud can be difficult to detect but judges are alert to the problem and will bend over backwards to assist victims of deceit. In one case, a tribunal came to the aid of a divorcee whose ex-husband used forged documents to defraud her of her half share of the former matrimonial home.
The house had been purchased in the former couple’s joint names prior to their marriage. Whilst the relationship lasted, they had paid the mortgage out of their pooled income. He had continued to live in the property after she moved out and, 12 years after their divorce, he arranged to remortgage it and to have her name removed from the title deeds.
In ruling on the case, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found that the man lacked credibility and rejected his claim that he had paid his ex-wife £4,000 in return for her agreement to transfer the house into his sole name. On the basis of expert forensic evidence, the FTT found that her signatures on the transfer and the remortgage deed, and those of purported witnesses to those documents, were all forgeries.
In the circumstances, the FTT found that the striking of the woman’s name from the title deeds had been procured by fraud and that the transaction had been registered in error by the Land Registry. The woman’s name was restored to the register as the house’s joint proprietor. The remortgage had also been registered against the property by mistake and the FTT directed cancellation of that entry.