Griffin v Higgs [2018] EWHC 2498 (Ch)

WTLR Issue: Summer 2019 #175

PATRICIA JANE GRIFFIN

V

1. DAVID HOWARD HIGGS

2. ROBERT ERNEST LEEK

3. ARNOLD JOHN HOMER (the Executors of Patricia Dorothy Folkes, Deceased)

4. CONSTANTINE FOLKES

5. SAMSON JOHN FOLKES

6. CLEOPATRA LIANA FOLKES

7. AMY ANGELA FOLKES

Analysis

By her last Will and Codicils thereto Patricia Folkes appointed the First and Second Defendants, who were her solicitors, and the Third Defendant, who was her accountant, to act as executors (“Executors”). Her estate, which included a large house in substantial grounds called Stourton Hall and a holiday home at Pen-y-Graig, was left on discretionary trusts for the benefit of her three children and seven grandchildren. She also left a letter in which she said that her personal chattels at those properties had already been given to the Fourth Defendant, Constantine Folkes. She died on 20 December 2014. The Claimant, Patricia Jane Folkes issued a Part 8 claim form against the Executors on 18 July 2016. She sought their removal and the appointment in their place of an independent administrator because there were a number of transactions and documents executed by her mother during her lifetime that required investigation and she did not think that the Executors had sufficient independence to investigate them fairly, as they had been involved in some of them personally, and she thought that they favoured the Fourth Defendant and his children. The Executors, backed up by the Fourth Defendant and his children, initially defended the claim in the period up to 24 February 2017 but thereafter dropped their opposition to the application and thenceforward took a neutral stance until the hearing, for which judgment was given on 15 November 2017. On the same day Deputy Master Linwood heard submissions on costs and, in a reserved judgment given on 30 November 2017, ordered the Executors to pay the claimant’s costs for the period during which they have resisted the claim and that, since they had acted unreasonably in defending it, they were not entitled to an indemnity from the estate. He also considered that the Executors were not entitled to an indemnity in respect to the subsequent period, notwithstanding their change of position, although they were entitled to be paid their costs of that period by the Fourth Defendant and his children. The Executors appealed.

Counsel details

Alexander Learmonth (12 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London WC2A 3SW) instructed by Bircham Dyson Bell LLP (50 Broadway, Westminster, London SW1H 0BL) for the Claimant. Angus Burden (4-7 Salisbury Ct, London EC4Y 8AA) instructed by Higgs & Sons (Waterfront Business Park, 3, Brierley Hill DY5 1LX) for the First to Third Defendants. Elspeth Talbot Rice QC (24 Old Buildings, Holborn, London WC2A 3UP) instructed by Withers LLP (20 Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7AN) for the Fourth to Seventh Defendants.

Cases referenced

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