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Pitfalls of the Gig Economy – The Temptation of Airbnb

Gary Leverett
Gary Leverett
Associate Solicitor

Airbnb, the darlings of the so-called Gig Economy, offer many homeowners a tempting opportunity to earn a little extra cash by making use of that spare room or even the use of your home as a short term holiday let.

However, many potential owners are putting themselves into a precarious legal trap following the recent case in the Upper Tribunal, and you may find yourself in breach of the terms of your lease.

Understand the Terms of Your Lease

It is common for many long residential leases to have clauses in the following or similar forms:

  1. “Not to assign, underlet or part with possession of part only of the demise premises.

  2. “Not to use the demise premises for any purpose whatsoever other than as a private residence / single private dwelling / other than a private dwelling in occupation by one family only.”

If you were just letting that spare room, you could be in breach of the first clause and if you were letting the entire property as a holiday let you could be in breach of the second clause.

If your lease contains a clause that you could only use the premises for the occupation of one family only, then this would also be a breach of the second clause. 

The Ruling

According to the recent case of Nemcova v Fairfield Rents Ltd [2016] UKUT303, the Upper Tribunal rejected Miss Nemcova’s submission that a short term let of a flat (through Airbnb) is still being let as a private residence. 

The Upper Tribunal held that in order for a property to be used as the occupier’s private residence, there must be a degree of permanence going beyond being there for a weekend or a few nights in the week. 

People who would be occupying the flat on a short term letting would not be occupying it as their home and therefore, Miss Nemcova was in breach of the terms of the lease because she was using the flat for a purpose other than used as a private residence.

The landlord in these cases can prohibit such lets by making an application to the county court or the First Tier Tribunal.  If such lets continue, you could, ultimately, in a very worse case scenario, have your flat forfeited by your landlord and thus losing a most valuable asset.  

Seek Professional Advice Before You Let

At MW, our expert property dispute solicitors can help you to examine and understand your lease.  We strongly advise that you seek the advice of one of our solicitors who will help you to  avoid the pitfalls of such lettings.  Make an appointment to check that your plans do not amount to a breach of the terms of your lease.  Timely advice at an early stage can avoid expensive litigation further down the line.

If you would like to talk to one of our Property Disputes Team, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

Step Families Mirror Wills

The Pitfalls of Step Families Executing Mirror Wills

MW’s Wendy Rixon, Associate Chartered Legal Executive in our Estate and Trust Dispute Team, discusses the common issue of step-children left out of their step-parent’s Will. 

What is a Mirror Will

Wendy Rixon
Wendy Rixon
Associate – Chartered Legal Executive

Mirror Wills are a common way for married couples to deal with their estates whereby each spouse leaves their estate to their spouse and then to their children.  This can work fine in a standard (nuclear) family situation; but things can go wrong, particularly in step-families.

Problems arise because Mirror Wills leave no obligation on the surviving spouse to leave their estate in any particular way.  Therefore even if the couple agree (or think they have agreed) between them on what should happen to their joint estate once they have died, unless their joint wishes have been properly put into force, anything can happen.  Most commonly, a step-parent has, for whatever reason, decided to change their Will after their spouse’s death effectively disinheriting their step children. 

I often get disappointed step children seeking advice who believe that because their parent and the step parent made Wills at the same time, in the same vein, that these are automatically mutual Wills.  This is more often than not, not the case.  However, if there is clear evidence that there was a binding agreement between the couple when they made their respective Wills the court can determine that the Wills were mutual Wills and therefore the terms are binding. 

Can I Challenge a Mirror Will?

So what can we do for you if you find yourself in a situation where your parent’s estate has passed to your step-parent and your step-parent changes their Will after your parent’s death with the effect that your family inheritance passes outside the family?

Firstly, it has to be remembered that in English law a testator can leave his estate to whomever he chooses to.  There is no obligation in this country to leave your estate to your children or any other dependent person.  Therefore, the courts are loathe to upset people’s testamentary wishes without good reason.  However, if your parent had always been very clear in his/her intentions that eventually his/her estate (or part thereof) would pass to you, it is understandable that there will be disappointment if the eventual position  is otherwise.  Therefore, we can look at the intention of your parent at the time the Will was made and see if there is any evidence that the Will was intended to be mutual or irrevocable. 

We can also consider whether you can challenge the validity of your step-parent’s Will.  For instance, he/she may have lost capacity following your parent’s death and may have not known or understood the implications of changing their Will or they may have been unduly influenced to make the Will the way they did by their own family or by a new partner or a carer.  You would, however, need to be a disappointed beneficiary and be able to show that you would have been a recipient under an earlier Will. 

We can also consider whether you would be eligible to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 as someone who was treated as a child of the deceased or had been financially dependant on the deceased. This was originally dependant on a marriage between the testator and the natural parent but the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 widened the scope in this category, negating the need for the dependency to be part of a marriage for deaths after 1 October 2014.  

We can help

At McMillan Williams, Our Mission is “to make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including those who find themselves disinherited from a step-parent’s estate.

Our specialist Estate and Trust Dispute Team are here to offer a helping hand and to guide you through the process of making a claim as quickly and painlessly as possible.  If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8550 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

Policing Today - Blame Suspicion and Finger Pointing

In his Guardian article today (17th Feb 2017), Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales writes:

"In 2015, 38 separate serious misconduct cases were opened against superintendents and chief superintendents. Almost half of these cases are still ongoing, up to two years later.

Of those completed, 70% resulted in no further action – not even words of advice were required. All that effort; all that angst – to find nothing had been done wrong. This cannot be a sensible way forward."

Bellamy Forde
Bellamy Forde
Partner and Head of Civil Litigation

While we agree that the prompt conclusion of serious misconduct allegations against police officers is essential for the maintenance of public confidence in the police, it remains essential that concerns raised by the public are not disregarded and considered promptly.

We Need an Accessible, Transparent and Timely Police Complaints Process

We act for a family who have made a complaint against a police officer who inaccurately reported allegations against them on a police database. Our clients were unaware of the report that had been entered nor were they aware that the officer who had raised the report was related to an individual who had been in conflict with our clients. Our clients had no knowledge and therefore no right to reply in terms of the report.

On learning of the report, our clients were advised to complain and the complaint was initially dismissed by the police force concerned. on our advice, the complaint was appealed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) who have determined that the officer concerned has a case to answer and should face a misconduct hearing.

What the above shows is that it is very difficult to force the police to examine their own conduct. We must ensure that the complaints process is accessible, transparent and timely.

We Can Help

At MW, Our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who have been subjected to Police Misconduct or have raised an allegation or complained to the Police.

Our experienced and specialist Actions Against the Police Lawyers can help you at every stage of the complaints process.  If you would like to talk to one of our Team about your complaint or allegation, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.   

MW’s Head of Estate and Trust Dispute Team, Hayley Bundey, announces the arrival of Katie Woodcock to the team.

Katie Woodcock
Katie Woodcock
Solicitor & Estate and Trust Dispute Specialist

MW are very proud to announce the arrival of Katie Woodcock to the Estate & Trust Dispute Team in January 2017. Katie joins the firm from Penningtons, having formerly trained at TWM Solicitors.  She will be based out of our Guildford office.

Katie has many years of experience in all aspects of contentious probate work including challenging the validity of wills, claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”), claims for constructive trusts / proprietary estoppel and specifically she has a keen interest in, and passion for, contentious Court of Protection work.

Her Court of Protection specialism covers all aspects of work assisting clients with disputes that involve a person who lacks capacity – whether because of a mental health issue (such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia) or due to a brain injury. She is specialist in all aspects of lack of capacity work, is a member of the Mencap Shared Lives Panel Review team and volunteers for her local Citizens Advice Bureau in her spare time to ensure she can reach out to the most vulnerable in society to help them through this tricky area of the law.

Katie’s Court of Protection practice covers challenges to the appointment of Attorneys/Deputies and applications to the Court to make a decision as to the residence or treatment of an individual who is unable to make those decisions for themselves. She also makes applications to the Court to approve Statutory Wills for incapacitated individuals.

Katie is a student member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), a further recognition of her expertise in this often complex and specialist field. She is also a keen advocate of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and specifically mediation and joins MW’s existing team who all strongly favour mediation as the preferred method of resolving contentious probate work where possible.

Examples of Katie’s successes in the past have included representing a client successfully at mediation to settle a claim by a partner under the 1975 Act , making an application to the Court of Protection to object to the appointment of an Attorney and the successful appointment of a professional Deputy in their stead and successfully applying to the Court of Protection for approval of a Statutory Will.

Katie’s addition to the Estate & Trust Dispute Team means the team is now represented in four locations across the MW network (MW Devon, MW Guildford, MW Sevenoaks and MW Worthing), joining Hayley Bundey, Sharon Bell, Hayley Prideaux and Wendy Rixon.  The team continues to grow to meet the demands of their rapidly expanding client base and are ready and able to help callers with any queries they may have about their Estate or Trust Dispute.

Katie in particular will be expanding the team’s specialism in contentious Court of Protection work, building on her expertise in this field, to increase the depth of service we can offer to our clients on this key aspect of the team’s work.

On joining MW Katie said:

“I am pleased to have joined such a dynamic and forward thinking firm and specifically the exciting opportunities in MW’s Estate & Trust Dispute Team. I am looking forward to helping expand our work in the field of contentious Court of Protection work and to continue to be the compassionate helping hand that our clients need at often the most difficult times in their lives”. 

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who find themselves in a Trust or Estate dispute.

Our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team can advise you on all aspects of Estate and Trust Disputes (including TOLATA – Trusts of Property - claims) and Contentious Court of Protection work.

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know if you would have a claim against an Estate or need help after someone has lost capacity then our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team can guide you through the process step by step and as quickly and painlessly as possible.  If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

tug of war

Siblings at War

MW’s Head of Estate and Trust Dispute Team, Hayley Bundey, discusses the common scenario of siblings finding themselves at war over the distribution of their parents’ Estates and how our Specialist Team can help you break through deadlocks.

As the Supreme Court’s decision on Illott v Mitson is imminently awaited, following the hearing on 12th December 2016, it is inevitable that the decision (whatever it may be) will shed light once again upon the issue of financial provision made by parents for their children in their Wills. This is in the context of claims brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) however it is not only these sorts of claims which can pitch sibling against sibling following their parents’ death.

Dealing with Unreasonable Siblings

Apart from other claims (such as challenging the validity of Wills), our Estate & Trust Dispute Team are seeing an increase in the number of clients who simply need our help in dealing with their, often unreasonable, siblings just to ensure they obtain from their parents’ Estate what they are already entitled to under a Will or Intestacy. A difficult economic climate, larger Estates and more complex families (including step-families) can all contribute to this but sometimes it can simply be that clients see a change in their family member that they never saw coming until the worst happened and their parents passed.

Joint Executors

This becomes all the more difficult when siblings are jointly appointed as Executors in a Will as this can often lead to deadlock, with the administration grinding to a standstill if agreement cannot be reached. Sometimes the only way to break that deadlock is to apply to remove a sibling as a co-Executor of the Estate or agreeing to the appointment of an independent firm of solicitors to administer the Estate instead.

Even then our ongoing help is often required to ensure that the due administration of the Estate proceeds without further incident – particularly to ensure that you are kept fully informed of progress with the administration, that the distribution which is received at the end of the administration is the correct one and that an unreasonable sibling has not managed to reduce the value of the Estate or, worse still, hide assets along the way. We can also help to ensure a fair division of sentimental items in the Estate – something which often means as much, if not more, to our clients than their financial distribution from the Estate.

Deferred Funding Arrangement

Often our Estate & Trust Dispute Team can act for clients in these situations on a deferred privately funded arrangement so that you simply pay our costs from your inheritance at the end of the administration of the Estate – i.e. you don’t need to fund them as you go. We find this is reassuring to clients who already come to us in a state of high stress, due to the conduct of their sibling, and who need our immediate help to break through the deadlock but who simply can’t afford to pay for it until they receive their inheritance.

So don’t despair and suffer in silence – pick up the phone or email us today. We are here to help you fight for your inheritance, to stand up to your sibling and remind them of your rights in relation to the Estate and to ensure you receive what is rightfully yours without their conduct holding you to ransom.

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who find themselves in a trust dispute with their siblings.

Our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team are here to offer a helping hand and to guide you through the process of breaking that deadlock as quickly and painlessly as possible.  If you would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

The Estate of Leonard Supple – a needless 12 year feud

Leonard Supple, a man who died in 2004 leaving an Estate thought to be worth up to £18m, has again found its way into the media forefront after further disputes within the family.

The first of these disputes go back to 2007, was an allegation of fraud in relation to Leonard’s last Will. Leonard’s illegitimate daughter, Lynda Supple, attempted to prove the validity of his last Will (which the terms gave her almost all of his entire £18m wealth) following 3 years of arguments over the distribution of the Estate. In the court action that followed, Leonard’s son Stephen successfully argued that the Will was a forgery and was subsequently asked by the Court to administer the Estate of his father.

Further arguments develop within the family after Lynda then attempted to bring an Inheritance Act 1975 claim against the Estate, where Stephen questioned the eligibility of Lynda Supple in bringing the claim. The result was Leonard acknowledging that Lynda was indeed his half sister and therefore entitled to half of the Estate. Following the same proceedings, Stephen was replaced as Executor of his father’s Estate by an independent Solicitor to run the administration.

Fast forward to 2016, and we find that not only is the Estate not yet distributed, but Lynda has brought further proceedings against him for failing to disclose key documentation in relation to the administration.  Key documents which have prevented the administration from continuing.  Stephen had been ordered to provide them the previous year and in summary judgement, he was found in contempt of court for failing to disclose the documents and is now facing a potential two year sentence once he is located by the High Court’s tipstaff.

This Situation Could Have been Avoided with Mediation

This is certainly an example of an unconventional Estate administration, and it is suffice to say that 99% of administrations will never be this complex or drawn out.  However, this case needn’t have been within that 1% either if both Lynda and Stephen had utilised some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), such as Mediation, back in 2007 when the will was first challenged.  Court actions needn’t have been brought, the costs involved could have been drastically reduced and the Estate could have been distributed with much less difficulties.

Mediation is an excellent tool in settling claims and keeping a matter out of the increasingly expensive Court procedures. It can offer a very controlled situation where both parties can put all of their cards on the table and enabling them to focus on the key aspects involved and come to a considered, and quite often more favourable agreement than can be had with traditional negotiation. Not only that, but there is now the possibility of Costs orders being made against parties refusing or ignoring an attempt to settle a claim using ADR.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and our specialist inheritance dispute Solicitors are keen advocates of using Mediation to settle claims, especially in light of its very high success rate and inherent flexibility in the agreement that can be made.

If you have found yourself in a dispute over an Inheritance and are looking to mediate over the matter, then please call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

Social Media

Breaches of Privacy, Confidence, Online Harassment, Data Protection, Defamation, Malicious Falsehood, Copyright, and Human Rights Law.

Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised who, how and the speed at which people can communicate, as well as the permanence of that communication. They are fantastic tools for the Twenty First Century but one significant downside of them is that they usually require the disclosure of private information/personal data and the relinquishing of control of it to the websites.

Exposing your Personal Information to Strangers

Ryan Dunleavy
Ryan Dunleavy
Partner – Head of Media Law and Reputation Management

To set up social media identities people almost always need to provide some information from their private lives and some of their personal data. Many people also choose to go one step further and release and therefore lose control over (to an extent) extra private information that can be accessed by anyone, including people they do not know.

This allows third parties to use the individual’s information as a reference tool and can lead to the harvesting and further dissemination of their data, photographs, etc without their consent.

People join social media websites to communicate and share with others, but by doing so they can also find themselves targeted by trolls, stalkers, and the unscrupulous.

Such a situation can cause damage to ones reputation, lead to further infringements of privacy, harassment, distress, and a general feeling of loss of control.  There is a fine line between wilful disclosure and psychological exposure.

Removal of Information

Social media sites often refuse to remove distressing posts when requested to do so, as we have seen in multiple cases such as when the now imprisoned hate preacher Anjem Choudary posted items on Twitter and YouTube, and the case of the 14 year old suing facebook for not removing pictures of her.

When matters such as the above have been pushed too far, sometimes the only thing that will put a stop to the situation is an injunction from the court.  This can be on numerous grounds such as; privacy, or breach of confidence, or harassment, or data protection, or defamation, or malicious falsehood, or copyright, or under human rights legislation.

We Can Help

At MW our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who have been victims of social media legal infringements.  We represent everyone, not just celebrities and the rich and we offer conditional fee agreements (no win, no fee funding) for these types of cases, where appropriate.

If you feel that you have been subjected to social media legal infringements or wish to talk to one of our specialist social media lawyers, call 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

Construction Disputes

Unfortunately disagreements between consumers and builders or contractors are commonplace and often arise out of misunderstandings following verbal discussions. Many disputes could be avoided by the parties entering into a written contract before work starts.  McMillan William's Building and Construction Dispute Specialist, Hayley Prideaux, discusses when you should enter into a written contract with your builder or contractor, what you should discuss at the outset and what you should put in writing to avoid a dispute.

When should you have a written contract?

Hayley Prideaux
Hayley Prideaux
Solicitor & Estate & Trust Dispute Specialist

In an ideal world you should always enter into a written contract when engaging a builder/contractor so that everyone understands precisely what has been agreed.  The terms agreed between you should be outlined in a written contract which should be signed and dated by both parties. This is particularly important where the project is complex, you have agreed to make staged payments or where the cost of the work is significant. In addition, if there are any changes to the terms outlined in the contract as the work progresses, which you both agree, those changes should also be set out in writing and signed/dated by you both.

However, we understand that it is not always practical to enter into a written contract. You may also feel awkward about asking your builder/contractor about the same and worry they will not want to work with you, particularly if the job is straightforward.  But, even for if you decide not to ask your builder or contractor for a formal written contract, it is important that both parties are clear on what work will be carried out, how much it is going to cost and what will happen if things go wrong.

The more information that can be put in writing, the better.

What should you put in writing?

If you do not want to go to the trouble of making a formal written agreement, we would advise you to discuss your project fully with your builder/contractor and then follow up that conversation in writing as a record. Email is the quickest and easiest way of doing this and will be useful evidence if the project does not go as planned.

You should ensure you discuss the following with your builder or contractor:

  • A description of the works – You should be specific about what work you want the builder/contractor to do so that there can be no dispute at a later date. For example if you are building an extension, does the work include work to the interior of the extension such as joinery and painting. You should also discuss how long it is likely to take for each aspect of the work to be completed.

  • The cost of the works - It may seem obvious, but you should agree the cost of the work alongside the description of the work so there can be no dispute as to what is being paid for. It will also ensure you have something to refer to if changes need to be made later. You should ask your builder/contractor to provide you with an estimate or a quote at the outset and ask them to confirm precisely what work the estimate/quote refers to if it is not clear.

  • The payment terms - Agree how much is to be paid and when payment is due. You should discuss whether you will be paying for materials up front or whether the cost of materials is included in the price. Also, does your builder/contractor require you to pay a deposit? Do you need to pay for additional items such as scaffolding or skip hire? When and how should the final bill be paid and what happens if it is paid late? Is it appropriate for you to make staged payments and, if so, when will each payment be due? Agreeing payment terms up front will help to avoid any disputes later on.

  • The builder or contractor’s responsibilities – You should agree at the outset what do you want your builder/contractor to do as the work progresses. For example, do you want the builder/contractor to clear up once the work is complete? Is it important for tools to be securely stored away, if you have children in the house for example? Agreeing theses type of details will help both you and the builder/contractor know exactly what is expected before work begins and should ensure the project proceeds smoothly.

  • Your responsibilities – Responsibilities work both ways and it will also assist your builder/contractor to do a good job if certain things have been discussed and agreed by you in advance. For example, do you need to move items of furniture before the work commences? Will this be your responsibility or the responsibility of the builder/contractor? What access to your property are you going to provide to your builder/contractor?

  • Additional work and alterations – Once work starts, consumers often find they want to make changes to the work initially agreed or they want additional work done. If this happens, make sure you confirm any changes to the originally agreed works in writing and ask your builder/contractor to sign the same if you are able to. This can be done by email if necessary and you could ask your builder/contractor to confirm their agreement by return email. You should ensure you agree a description of the revised/additional works, the cost of the works and the payment terms, as you would have at the outset. Should a dispute arise at a later date, you will then have an accurate record of what was discussed and agreed between you.

  • Defects – Builders/contractors often offer guarantees on their work and/or materials, which are sometimes backed by insurance. You should make enquiries at the outset as to whether the work undertaken will be backed by a guarantee in the event there are any issues with the work undertaken. 

Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT)

If you decide you need a written contract and you do not want to deal with this yourself, you can purchase standard forms of contract from the Joint Contracts Tribunal. These standard contracts are widely used in the building/construction industry and your builder/contractor should be familiar with them. At McMillan Williams we can also assist you with any queries you may have in relation to JCT contracts.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who are in dispute over a construction project.

If you are in dispute or think your relationship with your builder is deteriorating or would like to take advice at an early stage in order to prevent the dispute escalating in the future, call our team of experienced solicitors on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.

The Sun on Trial: New Alleged Phone Hacking Claims

The High Court has ruled that phone hacking claims against The Sun newspaper can now proceed. Mr Justice Mann’s decision makes The Sun the latest target publication for lawyers who are representing phone hacking claimants. Such claims against News Group Newspapers (NGN) can now be brought in relation to both The Sun and the defunct News of the World.  Previously phone hacking claims against NGN had solely been commenced in relation to articles in the News of the World.

Whilst there are hundreds of claims of hacking by the News of the World, there are at present, only a handful of alleged phone hacking claims which rely on articles published in The Sun, although this may increase over time.

Experienced Lawyers

The Solicitors in our Media Law and Reputation Management Department have first-hand experience of conducting phone hacking cases against NGN in relation to the News of the World and MGN with regard to Mirror Group Newspapers.

They are experienced in telephone and email hacking cases in other situations, such as someone hacking into a spouse’s telephone or email account to access information to assist in a divorce, or when organisations hack into people’s telephones and emails to obtain data from them unlawfully for a variety of reasons.

The Law is Not Just for the Rich and Powerful

We firmly believe that “Justice is a Birthright” and that everyone, not just the rich and powerful should be able to defend themselves in court.  In recent weeks our team have secured a string of defamation victories against the BBC, The UK Defence Secretary and The Prime Minister. 

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who have been victims of phone hacking.  We offer conditional fee agreements (no win, no fee funding) for these types of cases, where appropriate.

If you have been subjected to telephone or email hacking and would like to talk to one of our specialist Solicitors, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk.  You may be entitled to compensation.


Dan Carter
Dan Carter
Regional Partner, Wessex Region and Head of Professional Negligence

In a recent Professional Negligence case, Glyn and Amy Daniel, were beneficiaries of a Trust set up by their father.  They filed a claim against their deceased father’s Solicitors, Stanley Tee & Co, for a breach of trust in connection with the investment of their trust funds between 2000 and 2002.  The claim amounted to £1,476,000.

The Claim

In this case, the claimants argued that a lack of realistic investment strategy at the outset, with no periodic review to consider whether the strategy was still appropriate, meant that the trustees had adopted a less balanced and less diversified approach than a reasonable trustee would have thought appropriate.

Why The Claim Failed

The claimants failed to prove they suffered loss as a result of those breaches and the Judge found for the Defence.

This was based primarily upon the fact that the performance of the investments was assessed over a relatively short period of time (2000 to 2002) and the choice of markets into which the funds where invested (IT and Telecom sectors) whereas the Trustees had looked to invest over a longer period of time which would have negated the short term volatility in share prices.

While the claimants had established some breaches of duty, particularly during the early stages, they had failed to prove they had suffered a loss as a result of those breaches.  Some aspects of the trustee Solicitors’ approach could be criticised as having fallen below the expected standards and call into question generally the duty of care owed by Solicitor to client.  However, unless the breach of duty led to imprudent choices, liability for loss will not be established.

We Can Help

If you have appointed Solicitors to act as professional executors and those professionals act imprudently we can help to establish liability for breach of trust if the beneficiaries sustain losses as a consequence.

At MW, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who have suffered loss as a result of “professional advice”.  If you would like to speak to a specialist to discuss your case call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at enquiries@mwsolicitors.co.uk

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