username

password

Family Law Week Email Subscription1 Garden CourtAlpha BiolabsCoram Chambers

Supreme Court to hear appeal by charities in Ilott v Mitson

Inheritance Act 1975 appeal to be heard on 12 December 2016

On Monday, 12 December 2016, the Supreme Court will hear an appeal brought by three charities in the long running case of Ilott v Mitson. The claim was initially brought by a daughter against her mother's estate, most of which had been left to charity. The charities lost in the Court of Appeal and now seek to overturn that judgment. For the Court of Appeal judgment (and summary), click here.

The Court – comprising Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption and Lord Hughes – will determine:

  1. Whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to set aside the award made at first instance on the respondent's claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
  2. Whether, in deciding to re-exercise the court's discretion to make an award under the 1975 Act, the Court of Appeal erred in taking account of the factual position as at the date of the appeal rather than the date of the original hearing.
  3. Whether the Court of Appeal erred in its approach to the "maintenance" standard under the 1975 Act.
  4. Whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to structure an award under the 1975 Act in a way which allowed the respondent the preserve her entitlement to state benefits.
  5. Whether the Court of Appeal erred in its application of the balancing exercise required under the 1975 Act.

Mrs Jackson died in 2004. By her will, she left the majority of her estate valued at £486,000 to three charities (the appellants). The will made no provision for Mrs Jackson's only child, Mrs Ilott (the respondent). Mother and daughter had become estranged many years before and their attempts at reconciliation had failed.

Mrs Ilott made an application under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision from her late mother's estate. In 2007, DJ Million made an award in Mrs Ilott's favour of £50,000. Mrs Ilott appealed against the amount of this award. In July 2015, the Court of Appeal allowed Mrs Ilott's appeal, setting aside DJ Million's award and substituting its own award of (a) £143,000, to enable Mrs Ilott to purchase her housing association home, (b) the reasonable costs of the purchase, and (c) payments up to a maximum of £20,000 structured in a way that would allow Mrs Ilott to preserve her state benefits. The charities now appeal to the Supreme Court.

Richard Kershaw, partner at Hunters Solicitors, commented:

"This is a matter of precedent for the charities but a matter of real need for Mrs. Ilott. If the Supreme Court upholds the Court of Appeal, it will push the door ajar and encourage many more cases of this kind in future."

11/12/16