In all the excitement of a new home together, it’s easy for individuals to forget to take steps to formalise their legal position or more…
Dispute resolution client stories
Here are some recent success stories from our clients. If you wish to discuss a potential dispute resolution claim with one of our specialist solicitors, call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.
Dispute over property after long-lost Will found | £500,000+ settlement
Barcan+Kirby successfully brought a claim on behalf of our client, Ms C, in a case over a disputed Will and the late testator’s knowledge of the document. Ms C had met the late testator, Mr E, in approximately 1968 when the two became friends. They subsequently purchased a house together for £14,500, the arrangement being that the house would be jointly owned and would be converted into four flats, with Ms C and Mr E each occupying a flat, with the remaining flats rented out.
This arrangement was never fully realised. The house remained registered in Mr E’s sole name and, over the years, the property became dilapidated. Ms C eventually left the house to live alone, but remained friends with Mr E, who handmade his own Will in the early 1990s. The Will appointed Ms C as sole executor and beneficiary of his estate, with the signing of it witnessed by his two friends. Mr E showed the Will to Ms C at the time to reassure her of her retained interest in the jointly purchased property.
Sadly, in late 2013, Mr E died of vascular dementia. However, Ms C was not informed at the time and did not immediately learn of Mr E’s illness or subsequent death. A distant relative of Mr E was appointed as personal representative of his estate in December 2013, following an extensive search to locate a Will. The personal representative, one of 10 distant relatives who stood to inherit the estate in absence of a Will, sold the estate property in April 2014 for £750,000.
However, in July 2014, Ms C discovered the deceased’s Will in the cardboard box in her garage, where Mr E had been known to leave personal possessions before each time he went travelling abroad. Ms C also happened by the jointly owned property at this time, and her enquiries with the estate agents led her to the personal representative’s solicitors. Ms C handed in the Will of Mr E as evidence of her claim to the estate.
The personal representative on behalf of the intestacy beneficiaries would go on to dispute the authenticity and validity of the Will. A Defence was later filed alleging that the Will was a forgery, claiming fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, incapacity, and want of knowledge and approval. Expert evidence as to handwriting and signatures was obtained and relied upon by the parties.
The case eventually went to trial and, after a heavily contested and acrimonious two-day trial, judgement was handed down in favour of Ms C, upholding the validity of the Will of Mr E and ordering the defendants pay Ms C a substantial sum by way of her costs. Ms C receives the whole of the deceased’s estate, equating to over half a million pounds
The client was understandably very grateful and this was a wonderful example of not only teamwork within litigation, but also inter-department co-operation, specifically with support coming from Wills & Probate. The success of the claim evidences the strength and depth of the expert knowledge within the whole of the firm, and commitment to our clients.
Successfully defending an alleged breach of contract | £1,800 settlement
Our clients, Mr and Mrs A, had a claim issued against them for unpaid invoices. The Claimant had been instructed to refurbish and decorate our clients’ property. However, the work was incomplete and it was not carried out by the Claimant with reasonable care and skill. The Claimant terminated the contract by instructing his apprentices to leave the property and not return, and our clients subsequently confirmed that they wished to terminate the Claimant’s services due to his numerous breaches. Mr and Mrs A then had to get a third party to complete the incomplete works and to rectify the poor workmanship.
After a thorough investigation of our clients’ position, we identified the appropriate steps to assist them in defending the claim which had been brought against them. The Particulars of Claim, which had been filed by the Claimant, lacked sufficient detail to enable our clients to respond to the alleged claim.
We therefore filed a Defence and made an application for further and better Particulars of Claim to be filed. An ‘Unless Order’ was made by the Court requiring the Claimant to comply with our request within a specified timeframe, or the claim against our clients would be struck out. The Claimant failed to comply with the Order and therefore his claim was struck out. He subsequently attempted to reinstate his claim and a hearing was listed. We instructed counsel to attend on behalf of our clients and we successfully opposed his request. The Claimant’s claim remained struck out and Mr and Mrs A were awarded £1,800, a substantial portion of their costs.