Posted On / 07.04.2016

Charities Inheritance Shows Early Negotiations Vital

Charities Inheritance Shows Early Negotiations Vital

3 charities have been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in a case called Ilott against an award in favour of a daughter after her mother Mrs Jackson cut her out of her will and gave almost all her estate to the charities. The Supreme Court will now consider the case. The charities are hopeful that it will reduce the daughter’s award.

Winning the bet  

The real reason for the charities’ appeal probably lies not in the facts, the evidence and the law, but in the offers which the parties have made during the case. When one party makes a formal offer to the other, then if that offer is accepted, that is the end of the case. If though the offer is turned down, it becomes like a bet. The party which made the offer is saying "I bet you don't do any better than this". The party which turns down the offer is saying "I bet that I will". At the end of the case, after the court has made its determination, the parties can then tell the judge about any formal offers. If one of the parties has lost the bet, they can be ordered to pay all of the legal costs which have been incurred since the time when they could and perhaps should have accepted the offer, on the basis that they have been wasting everyone's time and money since then.  

In the Ilott case, it is highly likely that the award by the Court of Appeal is better for the daughter than an offer which the charities made to her. The charities may have had to pay her not only the settlement, but also all of her costs. They will also have had to pay their own costs. What they are probably trying to do by this latest appeal is to reduce the award so that Mrs Ilott then receives less than an offer which they made to her. That may save them from having to pay all of her costs. It may also enable them to grab a contribution towards their costs out of her award.  

Mrs Jackson died in 2004. The case has already been going for more than 11 years. This latest appeal (the fifth in the case) is likely to add a year or so to that. In the end, the outcome is likely to result in severe financial pain for one or other or both of the parties and it is a shame that the case was not concluded by some form of settlement a long time ago.  

For further information please contact Peter Livingstone on 01935 846235 or email peter.livingstone@battens.co.uk