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9 November 2011, 13:22
A man who left his partner nearly 20 years ago is not entitled to half the value of the Essex house they shared, the highest court in the land has ruled.
Five Supreme Court justices allowed an appeal by hairdresser Patricia Jones against an earlier ruling that Leonard Kernott was entitled to 50%.
They announced that he was entitled to 10%.
Lawyers said the decision could alter the legal landscape for unmarried couples arguing over property after separating.
The Supreme Court was told at a hearing in May that ice-cream salesman Mr Kernott, 51, and Ms Jones, 56, split up in 1993 after sharing a house in Thundersley, Essex, for eight years.
The judges heard during the proceedings in London that the couple bought the house in Badger Hall Avenue - valued at £240,000 in 2008 - in 1985 in joint names and took out a joint mortgage.
Mr Kernott moved out, leaving Ms Jones to continue paying the mortgage, maintain the house and bring up the couple's two children, Lauren, 26, and Dean, 24.
Last year the Court of Appeal decided that Mr Kernott was still entitled to half the value of the house because the couple owned equal shares when they separated and neither had done anything to change the situation since.
Lord Kerr said that the split of 90% and 10% originally imposed by a county court judge was "a fair one as between the parties''.