Home repossession order quashed because husband’s affair was an abuse of trust

April 06 2010

The Court of Appeal has overturned a mortgage company’s attempted repossession of a matrimonial home, after the wife claimed she signed the mortgage only as a result of her husband’s abuse of trust.

The case is Hewett v First Plus Financial Group [2010] EWCA Civ 312. In 2004 Mrs Hewett’s husband had persuaded her to agree to remortgage their home for £23,000.

She claimed that he had not told her about the extent of his own credit card debts, which he repaid using some of the £23,000.

Moreover, unknown to her, he was also having an affair with another woman at the time, leading ultimately to the couple’s divorce.

Mrs Hewett claimed this was an abuse of trust by Mr Hewett, because he had already decided to leave her when persuading her to remortgage the family home.

Mr Hewett’s mother-in-law also had an interest in the property, and to avoid any domestic disagreements he forged her signature on the mortgage application form.

After the divorce, Mrs Hewett acquired her ex-husband’s interest in the property from his trustee in bankruptcy for £1. But she could not keep up the mortgage repayments, and First Plus began repossession proceedings, which Mrs Hewett contested.

She lost in the High Court, where the judge was not convinced she had been cheated. But the Appeal Court this month ruled in her favour.

Mr Justice Briggs said Mr Hewett’s concealment of his affair from his wife amounted to the exercise of undue influence against her, sufficient to vitiate the remortgage transaction.



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