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Supreme Court to give judgment in Inheritance Act 1975 appeal

Judgment due on 15 March 2017

On 15 March 2017 the Supreme Court will give judgment in Ilott v The Blue Cross and others, a case concerning the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

The judgment will consider:

  1. Whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to set aside the award made at first instance on the respondent's claim under the 1975 Act.
  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.

For the Court of Appeal judgment, click here.