Daughter cut out of will loses legal fight

16 March, 2017

So there we have it.  After more than 10 years, the legal challenge has finally come to an end with the decision of the Supreme Court today.  Ilott v Mitson is done and dusted.

The headline above is taken as a direct quote from the post by the BBC on the front page of its website this morning.

Except it’s wrong.  Or not exactly right.  Or both.  What it, along with many other headlines today does do I fear is encourage people to jump to the wrong conclusion.  The Guardian by way of another example is leading with ” Court overturns daughter’s win over estranged mother’s will.”  Many others follow in a similar vein.

By implication the daughter has lost i.e. is now left with nothing.  She left her mum, her mum chose not to leave her anything under her will and that’s that.  But it’s not.

Whilst the Supreme Court overturned an element of the Court of Appeal’s earlier decision (by essentially agreeing with the original  decision), it concluded that the original judge was perfectly entitled to find that Mrs Jackson (the mum) was wrong to make no provision under her will for her daughter (Mrs Ilott).  Although it did also say that had he found against Mrs Ilott originally that might also have been the right decision.  However, let’s not overcomplicate things just yet…

In other words Mrs Ilott has ultimately won.  Just not as much as she was awarded by the Court of Appeal. It’s not exactly rocket science, but headlines being headlines could mean that people who have legitimate grounds to bring claims might now not do so.  If they don’t read beyond the attention grabbing first line that is.

We may experience the polar opposite of what happened following the decision of the Court of Appeal in 2015.  Back then many practitioners received calls from individuals who had believed news headlines that if they had been left out of the will of a parent they merely had to object and they would get something.  Whatever the facts.  The telephones were red hot for a while two years ago.  Most enquiries were hopelessly misconceived.

Now, the opposite might happen.  Individuals who have real need for financial support may be discouraged from even picking up the telephone.  They could be the real losers here and they are the ones we should be concerned about.

Myles McIntosh – Head of Private Client Division at Cripps LLP

If you have any questions in respect of this article please contact me on 01892 506136 or by email:  myles.mcintosh@crippspg.co.uk .