Contentious Trusts and Probate Monthly Round-Up: June 2016

4 July 2016

Randall v Randall [2016] EWCA Civ 494

The Court of Appeal has held that a creditor of a beneficiary of an estate had a sufficient interest in the estate to dispute the validity of the will. A husband had agreed with his ex-wife as part of divorce proceedings that if her mother was to die leaving her more than £100,000 by her will then she would share any excess with him. The husband’s ex wife’s mother subsequently died and left the ex-wife exactly £100,000 (with the remainder passing to her children), which meant that the husband received nothing. The husband sought to challenge the validity of the will on the basis that it had been improperly executed in accordance with section 9 of Wills Act 1837. The High Court found that the husband did not have a sufficient interest (as required by part 57 of the Civil Procedure Rules) in the estate to bring a claim. The Court of Appeal overturned the decision. The husband was required to demonstrate only a “clear and accepted financial interest in the outcome” or a “real interest in challenging the validity of the will”. Lord Dyson emphasised that there is an important distinction to be made between a creditor of an estate and a creditor of a beneficiary of an estate.

Family Court Statistics Quarterly, England and Wales – January to March 2016

Last week the Ministry of Justice published its quarterly statistical bulletin presenting statistics relating to the family courts for the period January to March 2016. During this period, the Probate Service issued 62,574 grants of representation. In the previous period (October 2015 to December 2015), the Probate Service issued 64,293 grants of representation. There were 28 contested probate cases in the Chancery Division in October to December 2015, and 164 contested probate cases for the whole of 2015. We await with the interest the corresponding figures for this period (not yet published).

The Girls’ Day School Trust v GDST Pension Trustees Ltd & Anor [2016] EWCH 1254 (Ch)

The High Court has permitted rectification by summary judgment where it was clear that the parties had mistakenly executed the wrong version of a trust deed. Norris J said that it was “plain” that the execution of the earlier version of the trust deed was a mistake. He was prepared to grant summary judgment “provided that any taint of a deal done behind closed doors is dispelled”. Norris J confirmed that as well as the judgment being available on BAILLI, notice would be given to all scheme members along with the offer of a hard copy if requested. In addition the order for rectification would not take effect for 42 days.

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