Times caption: Beverley Chapman and Shree Ladwa
A piece by Kathryn Carlson in today’s Times:
An unemployed law graduate who was accused of having used her fiancée as a cash cow has won a legal fight over their £1.7 million home.
Shree Ladwa, 43, was entitled to half of the value of the property bought by Beverley Chapman, 46, a judge ruled yesterday. Ms Ladwa was supported by Ms Chapman during their 16-year relationship and was given jewellery and hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash, Central London county court was told. The couple never married, and their split in 2016 ended in a legal fight over their shared possessions.
Ms Chapman said she had been used as a “cash cow” by Ms Ladwa and had been pressured into putting their house in Chingford, Essex, under both of their names. They bought the property for £1.4 million in 2007, and added Ms Ladwa’s name within a year.
Ms Ladwa denied having put pressure on Ms Chapman and argued that, as in a conventional divorce, [J4MB emphasis] she was entitled to half of their property. [J4MB: But they never married!] Judge Stephen Murch said: “I cannot accept that Ms Ladwa was the kind of person who could make [Ms Chapman] act against her will. Ms Chapman has convinced herself that her version of events is to be preferred, regretting what she now perceives to have been undue generosity.”
The couple moved in together shortly after their relationship started in 2000 and Ms Chapman, who worked for her family’s building business, gave Ms Ladwa gifts such as shoes, bags, designer jewellery and an Aston Martin. She proposed at least twice.
Ms Ladwa did not have permanent employment during the relationship. She had an allowance of £25,000 per year from her mother, as well as cash from Ms Chapman that she used to trade on the stock market.
After they separated, Ms Chapman sued for the value of the house and for the return of “loans” and gifts.
The judge said that Ms Chapman had had the “economic strength” in the relationship. The gifts and money had not been intended as loans, he said, ruling that Ms Ladwa should keep them. “Ms Chapman knew that Ms Ladwa had no income from a job,” he said. “It can never have been envisaged that Ms Ladwa would pay them back.”
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