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Specialism: Lawyers Contentious Trusts
Company: Cripps Pemberton Greenish
Location: Tunbridge Wells, England
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Average client size: £5 million - £25 million
Fixed fee offering: Yes - In appropriate circumstances we offer fixed fees for stages of litigation
Number of offices globally: 1-5
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Settling an Inheritance Act and trust claim valued at £40m
Myles has dealt with a number of estate disputes in the past few years where values have exceeded £50m. Most are highly sensitive and settle away from the public eye. By way of example, he has recently settled an Inheritance Act and trust claim valued at £40m and separately a difficult multi-jurisdictional Will validity case involving a large number of represented parties.
Mental incapacity dispute involving multi-jurisdictional assets that took four years to resolve
One of the most challenging cases we have been instructed on in recent years concerned bringing an ultimately successful claim against an estate alleging the deceased lacked capacity when making her Will and was also the subject of undue influence.
What made the case tricky was that it involved multi-jurisdictional assets requiring firms in those jurisdictions to be appointed to advise and assist in tracing the existence of those assets, some of which it transpired had been deliberately transferred on to avoid claims being made against them. It also involved obtaining a considerable number of witness statements from foreign witnesses in different jurisdictions. It was heavily defended throughout with the defence refusing to compromise at any stage until very late in the day.
The dispute took four years to resolve. Ultimately a settlement was reached resulting in our client receiving a six figure settlement.
It is a good example of the scale of our international network of law firms in other jurisdictions assisting the progress of numerous aspects of the litigation. Furthermore, given the existence of assets in other jurisdictions and the value of the claim, considerable input was required from our own tax experts to determine how the estate was to be valued in the first instance and how to best structure a settlement in the most tax efficient way for the client.
Property dispute that could have caused a charity significant reputational issues
We were instructed by a beneficiary charity to defend a claim that was brought by the deceased’s sister claiming absolute entitlement to a property which she lives in. The charity trustees had to weigh up their duties on behalf of the trust, consider the interests of the other beneficiaries and factor in proportionality and litigation risk. The case was made significantly more difficult because the claimant changed solicitors three times before representing herself towards the end of the claim.
The substance of her claim, which was for approximately fifty percent of the estate was denied. After much legal argument and analysis and various meetings between the parties, the claim was ultimately compromised by the claimant withdrawing her claim in exchange for the charity granting a limited life interest in the property which will revert to the charity upon her death. The charity was delighted as there were very significant reputational issues at play that could have created significant difficulties for it, and its members, from continuing to operate.
Bringing an inheritance claim out of time
We represent the client who has instructed us to bring an inheritance claim out of time. Limitation has expired. This case will be an important one by which it is expected that the courts will provide further clarity as to when permission will be granted to bring claims after the expiry of the limitation period.
Our client is the ex-spouse of the deceased. They entered into a financial settlement on divorce providing our client with accommodation and maintenance for the last thirty years. His will does not make any provision for her.
In addition to the limitation issue, the matter is more uncertain as to the terms agreed on divorce (no files exist any longer either with the court or the original solicitors) and issues as to ownership of assets which appear to have been transferred out of the estate to put those out of reach.