Woman Wins £1M Property Dispute With Father

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Property dispute resolution

A woman whose relationship with her father broke down after he started a relationship with her children’s nanny has won a court dispute over ownership of their shared £1m property empire.

The court heard that Audra Wamsteker, 49, and her father Paul David, 78, held a close "personal and financial bond" until Mr. David became romantically involved with his grandchildren’s nanny Jobeth Daguio, 28. Mrs Wamsteker described the union between her father and Ms. Daguio as "unthinkably repugnant."

A legal battle for ownership of properties in the UK, USA and Malaysia between father and daughter began in 2010, after Mr. David and Ms. Daguio married. Mr. David launched the proceedings to establish rights over the pair’s shared property portfolio. The disputed assets included a £740,000 house in Surrey, a £275,000 flat in London, and several pieces of jewellery which belonged to Mrs. Wamsteker’s late mother.

Ruling in Mrs. Wamsteker’s favour, the judge said it was “desperately sad to see” the deterioration of “a previously close and loving family,” adding that it was “perhaps not unusual for families not to document their financial and property arrangements.”

Father fails to establish “beneficial interest”

Mr. David brought proceedings to obtain a declaration of ownership of the properties as well as £150,000 in rent from his daughter, who he said had “excluded” him from the properties since 2013.

Although the property was held in Mrs Wamsteker’s name, Mr. David argued in court that he held equitable proprietary rights as the “beneficial owner.” According to Mr. David, his equitable interests in the properties arose from financial contributions he made towards their deposits, as well as from his having either “funded” or “contribut[ed]” to paying off their mortgages.

Such payments towards the acquisition of a property would usually give rise to an equitable share in the property. In addition, Mr. David stated that he had paid for four properties in Florida sold in 2014, for which Mrs Wamsteker had retained the proceeds.

In Central London County Court however, Judge Simon Monty QC dismissed Mr. David’s claims as “untruthful” and “wholly incredible,” noting that each party had “accused the other of lying about virtually every relevant aspect.”

The finding in her favour entitles Mrs Wamsteker to both UK properties as well as the revenue from homes owned in the US. Ms Wamsteker was also found to be legally entitled to her late mother’s jewellery, which she had insisted Mr. David gave to her as a gift prior to the breakdown of their relationship.

Mr. David failed to convince the court of his claim that the twenty-three pieces of jewellery “were not given” to his daughter, “but taken to her house for safekeeping.”

Daughter “vindicated” by judgement

Speaking on the settlement, Mrs Wamsteker emphasised that she “did not bring the… proceedings and had no wish to be involved” in the litigation or the publicity which it attracted.

In a statement, the accountant added: “Today’s judgement vindicates me entirely and I am glad that it is now concluded with the court firmly finding in my favour.”

Mrs. Wamsteker had previously obtained a non-molestation order against her father before he brought proceedings to claim rights over the properties. Non-molestation orders are legal injunctions usually granted for victims of domestic violence or intimidation from a family member, cohabitant or current or former romantic partner. Breaches of a non-molestation order once granted constitute a criminal offence.

Mr. David denied in court that he had threatened to attack his daughter’s husband with an axe. He will now be liable to pay his daughter’s £120,000 legal costs for the case.

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