Will Disputes Explained – What is Mediation?

7 December, 2012
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

Will disputes, in the same way as all types of litigation, can be resolved in one of two ways:

1. By a Judge making a decision following a trial or other hearing; or

2. By the parties to the Will dispute reaching an agreement between themselves.

When a claim is brought to contest a Will or, for example, for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, parties are in fact required by the Civil Procedure Rules, these being the rules that govern how litigation in England and Wales is conducted, to actively consider whether their claim can be settled.

One of the most successful means of achieving this is to have a settlement meeting or a mediation. A settlement meeting will not, however, normally involve the parties who are contesting the Will or the Estate sitting together around or across a table.

Will dispute cases often involve a breakdown within the family and therefore each side is usually in a separate room and will not in fact meet. Instead, legal representatives will speak with their own client and then provide information or make offers to the other side through their legal representative.

A mediation works in a similar way ,except that there will be a Mediator present whose expertise lies in working with both sides to try and ascertain what is important to them and what their objectives are with a view to trying to help find a compromise that is acceptable to all.

The big advantages of resolving a Will dispute or other Will claim through a settlement meeting or a mediation are:

1. If an early settlement can be reached, costs will be much lower than would be incurred up to trial; and

2. Clients are usually happier with an outcome that they have agreed as opposed to one that is imposed upon them by a Judge.