Category: Dispute Resolution

Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council [2023]: What does this mean for alternative dispute resolution, including mediation?

Judgment in the case of Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council [2023] was handed down from the Court of Appeal on 29th November 2023, and with it we enter into a new era of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution being further integrated into civil and commercial disputes. What does this mean for alternative dispute resolution, including mediation?

The Court of Appeal’s ruling in Churchill is an important milestone in the ever-evolving landscape of alternative dispute resolution (‘ADR’). Sir Geoffrey Vos continues to openly support the use of alternative dispute resolution, saying that it should no longer be viewed as ‘alternative’ but rather an integral part of the dispute process.

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5 ways to avoid an inheritance claim after your death

Worried about your heirs arguing over what happens after your death? From what will happen at your funeral, to who inherits what, family fall-outs following a death is all to common.

So, what can you do to keep arguments to a minimum and avoid an inheritance claim? There are several things you can do to lessen the likelihood that your family will argue with one another after your death:

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Undue influence and the burden of proof

Undue influence is probably the most common suggestion made to me by clients as an explanation for a family member’s Will having been changed. However, in practice, it is an incredibly high burden to prove, and you rarely see cases going to Court on this basis alone. The risk of losing and costs consequences is just too great.

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When inheritance disputes turn criminal

Janice Johnson faked letters and will documents, which she purported to be witnessed by people who had since died, to avoid being found out. But it wasn’t to be, and she has been found guilty of 5 counts of fraud.

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Unfair, but not irrational…

Norman Gill hired a hitman to kill his wife in 1979 and went on to leave his children only £5,000 each of his £6m estate after a tumultuous relationship with them. He had previously executed a will leaving £5 to his ex wife.

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The importance of having your Will professionally prepared

Cases such as this one, Ingram and Whitfield v Abraham [2023] EWHC 1982 (Ch), really demonstrate how crucial it is to have a professional prepare your Will.

In this case, an online will pack was used, and this had the effect of disinheriting the testatrix’s children, who had been the beneficiaries of her previous Will. Instead, the estate passed to Simon, the deceased’s brother, who had prepared the Will.

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How new reforms are using mediation to free up the courts

On the 25th July 2023, the Ministry of Justice UK introduced new reforms to free up court capacity. Following consultation launched last year, mediation is now fully integrated into claims valued up to £10,000 and parties could face costs sanctions or a strike-out of their claim if they fail to engage in this process.

But, in my opinion, this is just the start of the mediation integration into the Civil Procedure Rules.

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