James and Barbara Ball were parents to eleven children. During the course of their lives, three of the children reported James to the police for indecently assaulting them when they were children. James was convicted and received a suspended sentence. Barbara Ball was vehemently against the decision of the three children to report James, so these three were not included as beneficiaries in her Will.
James Ball died before Barbara. However, Barbara didn’t redo her Will before passing away in 2013, which therefore meant that the three children remained excluded from the Will. The three who didn’t inherit anything claimed Barbara had a lack of capacity and was unduly influenced by James, despite him predeceasing her by some nine years. They claimed James had influenced Barbara against the children, and convinced her that he was, in fact, “innocent”, and therefore she was under a misapprehension of the true position. The three children also claimed under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for reasonable provision from the estate.
The arguments put forward by the three children were all rejected in the High Court. The Court held that because James had admitted some allegations to Barbara, there was no misapprehension. The judge also said that Barbara was the dominant personality, so threw out the undue influence claim.
Probably most surprisingly, the claim for reasonable provision also failed, leaving the children with nothing from their mother’s Will. Having suffered hurt at the hands of their father, it can be argued that the three suffered hurt again at the hands of the Court. (Case reference: Ball v Ball 2017 EWHC 1750 Ch)
This unsympathetic ruling by the Court is difficult to reconcile with the case of Ilott v Mitson, and the only conclusion is that every claim will be dependent on its facts. This aids neither lawyer nor client in future matters of this nature!
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