Adverse Posession

 

Disputes often arise over the ownership of an area of land. If you own land that someone else is using without your permission, you might be at risk of losing it altogether.


Jessica Piper-Thompson
Jessica Piper-Thompson
Solicitor - Head of Property Litigation - South West

Someone who does not own land can obtain it by adverse possession. This is sometimes referred to as ‘squatters rights’.

Adverse possession is where a person can become the legal owner of land if they have possessed that land for a specified period of time, without permission from the legal owner.

There are two ways in which a squatter could obtain land by adverse possession. Once adverse possession is established the legal owner may not be able to oppose it. This would allow the squatter to legally register the land in his/her own name.

The Old Rules

The old rules are in common law and they are based on the Limitation Act 1980. The old rules allow a squatter to obtain land by adverse possession after they have possessed it for 12 years or more. The period should end by 13th October 2003.

The test was set out  in Powell v McFarlane (1979) 38 P & CR 452. This case tells us that the squatter needs to prove the following to claim title by adverse possession:

  • Uninterrupted factual possession of the land for the necessary period; and
  • Intention on the part of the claimant to possess the land during that period of possession.

Time begins to run when the legal owner of the land is not in factual possession of it and the squatter has possessed the land.

It is important to note that once the necessary 12 year period has been established, the owner of the land will not be able to claim it back. 

The New Rules

If the squatter has not been in possession of the land for 12 years by 13th October 2003, then he/she could apply to be registered as the legal owner of the land after 10 years of adverse possession. However, under these new rules, the owner can oppose the application.  If the owner objects to the application, it will be rejected unless the squatter satisfies specific conditions.

Time is a Factor

Whether you are the land owner or you believe that you may have acquired land by adverse possession, it is important that you consider when possession started and the specific period of time the land has been used for.

The timing and period of possession will determine whether your dispute falls under the old rules or the new rules (under the Land Registration Act 2002) which may have a significant impact on the situation.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including landowners who are in dispute over ownership of land. 

Our specialist Property Disputes Lawyers have the experience and knowledge to help you to resolve your issues in an efficient and timely way. 

If you think that you may have a land or property dispute or would like to discuss your issue with our team, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a call back.

eviction


Getting the keys to your dream home should be the start of a joyous period in your life, but for a young couple who recently asked for our help it was the start of a 12 month nightmare which saw them unlawfully evicted, forced to move back in with their parents and left with no choice but to go to court to regain access to their home.


Geoffrey Stagg
Geoffrey Stagg
Partner - Property Disputes

Geoff Stagg, a Partner in the property disputes section of the Civil & Commercial Litigation Department, handled the case and as he explains, what happened to the clients was quite extraordinary, as was the eventual outcome. 

An Unusual Case of Unlawful Eviction

The facts of this case were unusual because unlike typical unlawful eviction cases, which involve landlords evicting tenants with a short-term lease, what you had here was the freehold owner of a building that had been divided into flats unlawfully evicting a couple who had bought one of those flats.

The circumstances leading up to the eviction were complicated, but in essence the building owner alleged that the previous owners of our client’s property had failed to pay him thousands of pounds in outstanding service charges for repairs and maintenance. He insisted that our clients were responsible for settling these and when they queried this, and subsequently refused to pay, he responded by changing the locks to their property while they were out without a court order and refused to let them back in.

When the clients came to see us they were understandably distressed.  They had paid nearly £200,000 for their first home in which to raise a family and were now faced with being unable to live there.

We explained to the building owner that he had no right to lock our clients out and demanded that he immediately provide them with a new set of keys so they could regain access.  He refused, which left us with no option but to start court proceedings for what was clearly an unlawful eviction.

Incensed by this, the building owner did all he could to make dealing with the proceedings as difficult as possible. He acted without using solicitors and even made veiled death threats to myself and my colleague Louise as a result our involvement in the matter.

A Successful Outcome

In spite of this we pushed on and after a 12 month battle we were successful in securing an order from the court confirming our clients’ right to be let back into their home.  Initially the building owner still refused to comply with this but eventually had no choice but to cave in after we issued further contempt proceedings which could have resulted in him being imprisoned if he continued to ignore the order that had been made.

In recognition of the distress, inconvenience and financial losses our clients had incurred, we were also successful in obtaining an order from the court compelling the building owner to pay our clients over £66,000 in compensation, which is possibly the highest ever award made in an unlawful eviction case of this type in England and Wales.

Needless to say the clients were delighted with the outcome, although understandably they have since decided to sell the property so they can start a new chapter in their life somewhere else untainted by the horror of what they have had to endure.

We Can Help

If you have been unlawfully evicted from your home and require advice on your options call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback. 

You will not be charged for your initial call and the cost of any services we provide will be agreed with you in advance and may be capable of being funded under a Conditional Fee Agreement.

Debt Letter

A Pre-Action letter, also known as a ‘letter before action’, provide an opportunity for people and companies in dispute to correspond before resorting to court action and potentially avoid costly litigation.


Meta Panchamia
Meta Panchamia
Partner & Deputy Head of Civil & Commercial Litigation

The Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) is Changing on 1st October 2017

The exact Pre-Action Protocol used depends upon the type of claim, each type of claim is subject to a different Pre-Action protocol. 

What does the Change Mean in Practice for Debt Claims? 

Creditors are to be afforded greater protection when the new Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) for debt claims is.

Under the new protocol, which comes into force on 1st October 2017:

  • Debtors will have up to 30 days to respond to a pre-action letter (currently a debtor has between 7-14 days to respond to a letter before action).
  • Creditors must allow another 30 days after receiving the debtor’s response before commencing with any court application, significantly lengthening proceedings.
  • The time taken to issue court proceedings will be extended by up to five weeks.

Who do the new protocols apply to?

The new PAP will not apply to business-to-business debts unless the business is a sole trader.  Sole traders are to be treated as individuals meaning that they will also enjoy the generous provisions included in the new protocol.

The result is now it will be more important than ever for a business to know the legal status of the entity they are dealing with to ensure their credit terms are not open to abuse.

We Can Help

At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To Make Quality Legal Services Accessible To Everyone" including individuals and businesses trying to recover debts. Our team of specialist Debt Recovery and Insolvency Lawyers are experts in using the Pre-Action Letter Protocols to avoid expensive and unnecessary court actions.  

We can assist you with reviewing your credit terms so they are fit for purpose and pursuing debtors for you in line with the new protocol, writing the necessary Pre-Action letter on your behalf.  In the event the debt is not settled we can also apply to the court for enforcement of any debts owed to you or your business.  If you are a creditor pursuing a debtor talk to our team today, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

 

After the recent revelation that CPS prosecutors in England and Wales are being urged to take a more risk-averse approach to rape charge decision-making, the latest figures reported in The Guardian confirm that only a little over 1/3 of the rape cases referred to the CPS between April and September 2018 (2,310 referred) resulted in the suspect being charged. This is a significant decrease from the equivalent rate for 2013 – 2014 of 62%.


Clare Evans
Clare Evans
Solicitor - Civil Litigation

The team of specialist civil liberties lawyers at MW who work closely with the Centre for Women’s Justice on cases involving failings in the investigation and prosecution of rape and serious sexual assault, on the part of the police and CPS, are seeing a rise in the number of rape victims coming forward to challenge CPS and police decisions which let rape suspects avoid the judicial process.

The gatekeepers of the justice system – the police and CPS - are arbitrarily taking matters into their own hands leading to rape suspects remaining at large without even having to account for their actions in the courtroom. The message this sends is that rapists can get away with it.

The legal test applied by prosecutors in deciding whether to charge/prosecute rape suspects, is of course much lower than the criminal test. Even in cases where we are seeing strong evidence in support of a rape having taken place, the authorities are refusing to prosecute and giving unsatisfactory reasons for their decisions. This causes our clients, the victims, the utmost distress on top of the emotional turmoil they have already and will continue to suffer.

MW have a team of dedicated lawyers who work with rape and serious sexual assault victims seeking to overturn or otherwise challenge these decisions. This can include claiming for compensation following such fundamental human rights breaches and the psychiatric injuries these failings can cause.

One of the major problems in this context is that there are a number of ‘myths’ as to what does and, more concerningly, does not, constitute rape (e.g. ‘she was asking for it’ based on what she was wearing/how she was behaving, and so on). The effect of such myths is exacerbated where the police and CPS themselves seem to be attempting to predict what a jury might think, inevitably based on their own prejudices. The judicial system is set up – with jurors hearing these cases from all walks of society – to avoid just such abuses of power.

There is a clear and established public interest in prosecuting rape and serious sexual assault, an offence which engages the victims’ fundamental human rights. It is well known that such cases are often ‘one’s word against another’ since they often occur behind closed doors. But the crime is heinous and the second in seriousness only to murder. Yet so many cases are still resulting in shoddy investigations and poor-decision making, which itself results in rapists remaining free in society to commit the crime repeatedly. Overall, the impression of all of our clients who have fallen victim not just to rape or serious sexual assault, but to the system awaiting them afterwards, is that no one really cares.

Just such a flawed system is what led black cab rapist John Worboys to be able to repeatedly rape some 105 women (of the known reports), using similar methods, between 2002 and 2008, despite the matter being reported time and time again. Failings highlighted there included lack of training, failure to allocate adequate resources and failure to take the victims seriously.

We Can Help

At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are victims of serious sexual assault or rape.  We offer initial telephone consultations with a solicitor, free of charge, and are able to represent clients seeking to complain, exercise their right under the Victims’ Right to Review scheme, and pursue civil claims and challenges by way of Judicial Review. We are able to offer legal aid if you are eligible, and no win no fee agreements.

If you have found yourself in this situation, and want to speak with a sensitive and experienced lawyer call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

trust

 

A man who was disinherited from his mother's Will is bringing a claim against solicitors who drafted an Estate Protection Trust in 2003 for his mother designed to ensure that he inherited her property, or the proceeds of sale, after she died.  However, she entered into a civil partnership with a woman 37 years younger than her in 2007 and sold her property in 2008 without her son's knowledge.  When she died in 2013, the majority of her estate passed to her civil partner.


Wendy Rixon
Wendy Rixon
Associate – Estate & Trust Disputes Specialist

The trustees in the Trust were the deceased, her son and her son's wife.  It is not clear why or how the property was able to be sold without the trustees' knowledge, but it appears as though the trust was not necessarily directly attached to the property and there was no restriction on the title to prevent a sale.   The son, through his solicitors, will undoubtedly have requested the solicitor’s files and these will be part of the evidence in the claim. 

The solicitors say that they were not instructed to advise on the trust; neither were they acting in any capacity for the son and his wife.   Generally speaking when drafting a trust of this sort, the solicitors acting would advise all parties to take independent legal advice on their position.   I would also expect them to advise the client on the advantages and disadvantages; but again it is impossible to comment on this without the facts and we will not know the outcome unless or until the case is concluded and reported.

Trusts are difficult and complex and each party should seriously consider taking independent advice to be sure to minimise any risk to them in the future of the trust not doing what it was considered it would do initially.

Although the Civil Partner is not a party to this claim, it has been reported that she also inherited a significant amount from a previous partner; again a lady considerably older than her who sold her property and moved in with her, leaving her a substantial sum when she died.  Although a claim was brought by the deceased's godson at that time it was settled out of court and the settlement terms are confidential. 

Although, because the claim was settled on confidential terms, there is no actual suggestion or evidence that the partner has done anything wrong on either occasion, it is a fairly common theme that elderly and vulnerable people can be taken advantage of and coerced or influenced into disinheriting their family in favour of someone who comes along and takes care of them and puts themselves in a position of trust.  Whilst is it fairly common and perfectly legal for someone to leave their estate to someone they love and trust and who has come along at a time in their life when they perhaps need someone to take care of them, there are undoubtedly people who see this as an opportunity to inherit from a vulnerable person and  it is also understandable for a close family member to feel aggrieved if the estate they believe was intended for them has been stripped away from them.

There are various avenues which need to be explored if you feel that an elderly or vulnerable family member has been befriended by someone whose intentions are not what they are said to be. 

As much as possible should be done while they are alive to ensue that they are not pressured into making a new Will and that no undue influence is used.  However, it is often the case that these things do not come to light until after the death.  At that stage, if there is any suspicion of coercion or undue influence, files from the Will writers can be requested and considered, together with any property transaction files, to establish what the deceased's intentions were when making decisions about their Will or their property in their lifetime.

Medical records are also often helpful in establishing whether the deceased had the necessary capacity and knowledge and approval to make a Will and/or deal with property transactions and also as to whether there were any concerns about undue influence.

We Can Help

At MW Solicitors, Our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including Trustees of Estates or those who are trying to resolve a Trust or an inheritance dispute in which coercion may have taken place.

Our dedicated and experienced Estate and Trust Dispute Solicitors will happily discuss your case on a no obligation basis. Please call us on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

 

A promise was made. But is that enough?

For a proprietary estoppel claim, you must prove not only that promises were made, but that you, in reliance of these promises, acted to your detriment. The recent case of Gee v Gee and another [2018] EWHC 1393 (Ch) explores these familiar principles of a proprietary estoppel claim, but also brings up some further interesting points to consider. As this case shows, this is a claim that you do not have to only bring upon death, as the son brought this claim during his father’s lifetime.

The Background

This case involved a son successfully bringing a claim against his father and brother, as he was not transferred the land and company (the farming business) that he expected from the years of promises made by his father. The father owned the farming business and land together with his wife (who owned a minority interest). The land was owned by the father, mother and company in the respective shares of 7/18ths, 7/18ths and 4/18ths. The company consisted of 24,000 shares, all of which were held by the father except for one share being held by the mother. The father therefore held the controlling interest in the business and the land.

The claimant (JM) helped his father with the farming business for over 30 years, unlike his other brother (Robert) who only started to contribute since 2012. JM did receive a wage throughout the years that he contributed to the farming business, at a rate that was “equivalent to the minimum wage for an agricultural worker set by the Agricultural Wages Board”.

JM and his father had a difficult relationship, but as the Judge pointed out in this case, this indicates further that JM’s time and efforts spent farming were in reliance that he would have a majority interest in the business, and land. In 2014, the father transferred his entire assets into the name of his other son Robert, as opposed to JM. In an attempt to restore some balance to the situation regarding the transfer to Robert, JM’s mother transferred her minority entitlement to JM.
 
JM began a claim under proprietary estoppel and was claiming for a greater entitlement to that which he received.

The Result

The Judge commented that some of the representations were made indirectly by JM’s father to JM and this meant that JM could not reasonably rely on it. However, he did find instances in where such assurances were seriously and directly made to JM. The Judge then decided that detriment and reliance had also been established as JM had been working for long periods of time “without adequate compensation” and that JM “gave up the chance to better himself and work elsewhere”.  The Judge recognised the farming enterprise would not have been what it was today without JM’s input. The Judge decided that on the merits of this case, a claim of proprietary estoppel was made out.

Does the fact that the father wants to change his mind about where his assets go not matter at all? The answer is it will depend on the facts of the case. In this matter, the Judge found that for the father to retract from the representations he made, it would be “inequitable to do so”. 

The Judge interestingly pointed out that even though JM had received gifts from his parents in the past, that these were “given to him as a result of his status as a family member, not as compensation for time and effort spent farming”. The Judge found that even though it is relevant that JM’s mother transferred her share to JM, it was not enough to make up for the promises made by JM’s father.

When considering what remedy would be right to award, the Judge confirmed he would base this on expectations held by JM. However, he took into consideration that JM was aware that his father was “changing his mind about how the farm was to devolve” and that Robert had also started to contribute towards the business, which called for a reduction in what was to be given to JM.

The Judge decided that JM should return what he was given by his mother, and he should receive “52% of the shares [in the business] and 46% of the land” instead. A successful result for the claimant; JM gained a controlling interest in the business, which was at the heart of the matter.

The Judge did note that his approach would leave the “company in the hands of multiple shareholders” which could case further “trouble for the future” but he felt that this was “unavoidable”. A clean break was not awarded because the value of the land could increase dramatically in the years to come.

What About You?

Have you “positioned [your] life” around promises made to you? Have you relied on these assurances to your detriment? Or is somebody claiming that you have been making such promises to them?

We Can Help

At MW Solicitors, Our Mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and we can provide a case review to examine the merits of your case.  We can help progress a claim or defend against one depending on the evidence provided.

Our Estate and Trust Disputes Team are waiting to take your call.  Don't delay, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or tell us about your case using our Contact Us page

Japanese Knotweed

 

A landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal has been made against Network Rail following their failings to adequately treat Japanese Knotweed on their land.

Announcing the decision, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton said:

"Japanese knotweed, and its roots and rhizomes, does not merely carry the risk of future physical damage to buildings, structures and installations on the land… it can fairly be described as a natural hazard which affects landowners' ability fully to use and enjoy their property,” and is a “classic example of an interference with the amenity value of the land.”

This means that landowners could now be held liable to their neighbours for the presence of the Knotweed, even if the Knotweed has not yet spread to the neighbour’s property.  Following the ruling, a Network Rail spokesperson has stated that the organisation is considering the implications of the ruling.

Private Nuisance Claims

The claimants in the Network Rail case, Mr Williams and Mr Waistell, were successfully able to show that the presence of Japanese Knotweed within seven meters of their properties interfered with their ability to use and enjoy their land. This is legally defined as a private nuisance. 

Whilst there was no actual physical damage to the properties concerned, Mr Williams and Mr Waistell were able to recover damages to reflect a loss in value. 

If you know of - or suspect there to be - Japanese Knotweed on neighbouring land, early action is key. We will be happy to advise you in respect of a claim against a neighbouring landowner.

Claims against Surveyors

When you purchased your property, it is likely that you paid for a professional survey to be undertaken. Surveyors have a legal responsibility to check for the presence of Japanese Knotweed whilst conducting such surveys but this has been overlooked, or missed, on many occasions.

If your surveyor did not pick up the presence of Japanese Knotweed (and this is likely to include the presence of it on neighbouring land, if it can be successfully demonstrated that the presence of it is affecting the use and enjoyment of your land), it may be that you are able to bring a claim against the surveyor for professional negligence, this is if you are able to demonstrate that the presence and/or evidence of Japanese Knotweed should have been identified by the surveyor.

When a property is affected by Japanese knotweed, it can lose considerable value and your home may be worth less than you paid for it. This is called diminution of value and the basis on which you would be able to bring about a claim.

If, after having purchased your property, you discover an infestation of Japanese knotweed on your land, or within close proximity to your land, we may be able to help you bring about such a claim if this is something that your surveyor should have identified.

We Can Help

At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who wish to pursue a Japanese Knotweed claim.  Our Property Disputes Department are experienced Civil Litigators who provide pragmatic and cost effective solutions to end your dispute quickly. 

Don't delay call us today on 0203 551 8500 or fill in our Contact Us form and our team will call or email you within 1 working day.

 

Subsidence Houses

 

Houses are usually the most expensive purchases anyone ever undertakes and therefore we would encourage our clients to be as thorough as possible in respect of their due diligence including taking out searches, full surveys and not simply relying on mortgage lender valuations.  Where properties are in certain areas it is always recommended that a buyer takes out extra searches and/or insurance for specific risks associated with those areas


Dan Carter
Dan Carter
Partner & Head of Professional Negligence

My first Professional Negligence claim involved a transaction where the coal mining search came back clear.  

So far so good you would think, but this property was in Cornwall and the correct search (which can be done) is for tin mining and this would have shown a risk which could have been insured against.  When the garden subsided it became a Professional Negligence claim against the Solicitor.  Whilst this claim was ultimately successful without litigation it caused considerable unnecessary stress for the homeowner whose property was condemned and ended up living in alternative accommodation in her advanced years.

What is an Insured Event?

An Insured Event is any accidental, unexpected or unforeseen event which is be insured against under your Home Insurance.

The type of subsidence damage described above is an “insured event” and there may be a third party, such as the National Coal Board (or its successor), who can be held liable for the damage.

In these circumstances your insurer will deal with your claim and look to recover what it pays out under your insurance policy by bringing a claim against the third party.

Sinkholes, Soluble Rocks and Solution Features

In our previous article Subsidence - Getting to the Root of the Problem I described how in heavy clay soils tree roots may cause a problem for homeowners.

However, in areas where soluble rocks such as limestone or chalk exist a “solution feature” (an erosion of the underlying soil that results in an underground cavern) may occur which eventually gives way and may cause subsidence to your property.

These collapses are often triggered by an escape of water or a rise in the water table. The first sign is usually a small hole appearing at surface level and needs to be dealt with promptly.

If the cause of the escape of water is due to mains pipes then you should put the Statutory Water Authority (SWA) on immediate notice of the problem and have them remedy the same.  If the nuisance is not stopped then any damage that occurs after the point at which the SWA might reasonably have stopped the nuisance becomes recoverable in law.

The simple step of communicating with the SWA in time could prevent later difficulties.

We Can Help

At MW Solicitors our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including homeowners who are worried that their home is suffering or might be at risk from subsidence. If you believe that your property is suffering subsidence damage, it is important to act quickly.

We can help homeowners whose property is damaged through the actions of a third party.  We will explore every legal avenue and our experts in MW’s are not just experienced in the law regarding these matters, but also in the underlying geological and biological causes.

We can advise if you are entitled to bring a claim for the recovery of your insurance excess and any repairs costs and we will act on behalf of your insurer should you wish to instruct a local firm.  We can assist you with any discussions and negotiations with third parties in order to resolve any dispute.  We are keen advocates of mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and we will do all we can to resolve your dispute in a sensitive and cost effective way. 

If you are worried that your home is at risk from subsidence or you need to make a subsidence claim don't delay.  Call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

 

By Allan Lee from Auckland, New Zealand (Coronation Street) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



Fans of the ITV Soap Opera Coronation Street will no doubt be familiar with the current inheritance storyline following the tragic suicide of Aidan Connor.  Whilst Coronation Street is a fiction, it has to be assumed that the bigger, more sensational storylines are researched thoroughly to ensure a true depiction before it reaches the homes of millions. 


Wendy Rixon
Wendy Rixon
Associate – Estate & Trust Disputes Specialist

Coronation Street's Depiction of an Inheritance Dispute

Aidan Connor left a Will which was found by family friend Michelle when the family was sorting out his possessions after his suicide.  The Will purportedly leaves Aiden’s share of his business to his business partner Alya who had helped Aidan rebuild the business after it had previously gone bankrupt.  Until recently, the terms of the Will have been concealed from the wider family and from Alya herself.

After the Will was made, but before Aidan's death, Carla Connor had given Aidan her share in the business in order to assist Aidan in a new venture.  This was against the background of Aidan donating his kidney to Carla to save her life.

Michelle originally held back the Will and didn’t show anyone; but then showed it to Carla after she witnessed Carla’s "bullying" treatment of Alya and she also told Jenny, Aidan’s stepmother. 

Everyone was outraged and promptly headed to the local solicitor (Adam Barlow) to get some legal advice.

The Fictional Legal Advice

Adam's initial advice was that the Will appeared to be valid and it would be difficult to challenge. 

However, the three women were not satisfied with this answer and urged him to “think again" referring to the fact that he, previously, had not always acted by the book.  That episode ended with him saying he would have a rethink.  While in the solicitor's office, Jenny started to attempt to destroy the Will by tearing it up, but was prevented from doing so.

Adam has since suggested that the family could challenge the Will for lack of mental capacity; this is based on Aidan’s depression and subsequent suicide. 

The story now hangs in the balance and we will have to wait, in true soap land style, for all the threads to come together before we see any outcome in relation to Aidan’s affairs.  In the meantime, I will set out the facts of the scenario so far:

Legal Facts in this Fictional Scenario

Is the Will Valid?

The Will will be deemed valid as long as Aidan had the necessary mental capacity to make the Will and was not unduly influenced to do so, and so long as it was signed by him and witnessed by two independent witnesses who were both in the presence of Aidan at the time he signed the Will (as per Section 9 of the Wills Act 1837).  This can be challenged if there is strong evidence to support such challenge. It is unlikely that depression would be a sufficient reason to allege lack of capacity.

If the Will is deemed to be valid it is the duty of the executors to administer the Will in accordance with the terms of the Will.  In the case of Aidan's Will, it is not clear who the executors are or what other provisions were made, but certainly insofar as the business is concerned, Alya is entitled to Aidan’s share.

What Happens if the Will gets Destroyed?

It is illegal for anyone to destroy or otherwise conceal the existence of a Will.  If Jenny had succeeded in destroying the Will it would have been a criminal offence. 

However, if the existence of the Will had not been found and brought to the attention of Alya (or any of the family) then it would be assumed that Aidan did not leave a Will and the estate will be administered under the Intestacy Rules.  In this case, Aidan did not leave a spouse so his estate would go primarily to any children of his. He recently fathered a child with Eva (Susie) but none of the family know this about Susie so the assumption would be that his estate would be shared between his closest relatives.  He has a sister, Kate and father Johnny.  Also a half sister, Carla.  In this scenario everything would go to Johnny.

What about Susie Barlow?

If Eva comes clean about Susie, Susie will be entitled to the whole estate under the Intestacy Rules.  However if the Will is not destroyed, and deemed valid, Susie will have a potential claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 as a child of the family who was not left reasonable provision.  As a minor child in all the circumstances. she could have a very strong claim.  However if Susie is formally adopted by Toyah and Peter, she will not have recourse under this Act.  Therefore, if Eva is going to acknowledge that Aidan is Susie’s father, she needs to act quickly before Susie loses her right to any claim once the adoption process is complete.

Does Carla Connor have a Claim?

Carla may be able to bring a claim for a share of the business, given the monies she invested but if that money was deemed to be a “gift” to Aidan then this will no doubt be the subject of the litigation.

What about Alya Nazir?

If the Will is ‘lost’ she may have a claim to a share of the business if she invested money in it.

We Can Help

At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who find themselves in a similar situation to those of the fictional characters of Weatherfield.  Whether you are part owner of an up and coming knicker factory or a minor beneficiary about to be adopted there are avenues that can be explored to help you. 

Our team of experienced and specialist Inheritance Dispute Solicitors are here to help.  Call us today on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.

Inquest

In a recent article MW Solicitors highlighted the tragic case of Robin Richards and others who suffer from Aspergers and who are cared for in a failing system which does not meet their specific needs.


Clare Evans
Clare Evans
Solicitor - Civil Litigation

As instructed by the findings of the inquest, the senior coroner for Somerset, Mr Tony Williams, has written to the Health Secretary expressing concerns about the shortage of suitable supported accommodation for vulnerable people with Asperger syndrome following Richard's death in a home that had not even been inspected by the care regulator.

Mr Williams has given the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP and the chief executive of Somerset Partnership NHS foundation trust, 56 days to reply to his report "Prevention of Future Deaths" outlining the actions which have or are proposed to be taken.

Mr Richard's family are represented by Clare Evans, a member of MW Solicitor's special Inquest team.  She said:


"Robin’s family sadly came to a conclusion, long before his untimely death, that such was the almost inevitable, though avoidable, outcome in a system which does not cater for people diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

One of the main aims of the family in this inquest, was to highlight the ongoing risk of death to other Asperger’s sufferers nationally, created by this void in care provision, so that lessons could be learned from Robin’s death.

They are pleased the Coroner has communicated this message. One can only hope that the Department of Health will now take the action desperately required to prevent further Asperger’s deaths.”

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