How have the courts in BC dealt with a claim for unjust enrichment and constructive trust in real property in a relationship where the parties were in a marriage-like relationship for seven years?

British Columbia, Canada

The following excerpt is from A.K. v. S.D.Y., 2011 BCSC 1567 (CanLII):

In Carmichael v. Douglas, 2003 BCSC 611, 37 R.F.L. (5th) 259, the parties were in a marriage-like relationship for seven years and had two children. They had equally contributed to household expenses and had worked together to build a home. Madam Justice Ross addressed the plaintiff’s claims commencing at para. 75. After finding that the plaintiff was entitled to a constructive trust in the real property in issue, Ross J. turned to the pension issue. She held that she was not satisfied that the plaintiff had established that she had made any contribution to the pension or to the defendant’s ability to contribute to it sufficient to found an unjust enrichment claim: Carmichael at paras. 100-101.

S.Y. relies in particular upon Westergard v. Buttress, 2005 BCSC 622, 18 R.F.L. (6th) 196. In that case, the plaintiff claimed a proprietary interest in the defendant’s pension, which he had accrued during his employment at a Prince George sawmill. The pension credits had been accrued from mandatory contributions made by the defendant: Westergard at para. 13. Citing Peter, Mr. Justice Rogers noted that, even assuming that the plaintiff’s efforts had unjustly enriched the defendant in a general sense, in order to award a proprietary claim, there must be a link between the services rendered and the property claimed: Westergard at paras. 42-47. After citing the conclusion of the Court in Carmichael, Rogers J. found that no such link existed in the circumstances:

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