T v V [2019] EWHC 214 (Fam)

WTLR Issue: Autumn 2019 #176





The Claimant had been in a relationship with the deceased for about fifteen years up to his death on 26 June 2016. She brought a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (‘1975 Act’) in October 2017. The Claimant’s case was that there were significant periods of cohabitation during which the deceased supported her financially and that she was therefore a dependent within the meaning of s1(1)(e) of the 1975 Act. This was disputed by the Defendants and the matter was listed for a five day trial commencing on 18 March 2019. The Claimant had incurred legal fees and sought a payment of £155,000 in an interlocutory application for interim relief under s5 of the 1975 Act.

Held (dismissing the application):

The Claimant needed to satisfy two requirements on an application for interim relief; first, whether she was in immediate need of financial assistance and, second, whether she satisfied a merits test as to her substantive claim. The starting point was a consideration of the nature of the order being sought. It was a mandatory order to pay money to a claimant who may ultimately be found not to be entitled and where there was no possibility of a cross undertaking in damages. Accordingly, the application had to be approached with considerable caution and the evidence in support carefully scrutinised. Previous authority emphasised the need for clear evidence and, in particular, clear supporting evidence of financial need. On the basis of the evidence put forward in this case, immediate need of financial assistance was neither sufficiently clear nor comprehensive; nor was there any evidence from the Claimant’s solicitors suggesting that they would refuse to act if they were not paid the outstanding sum, nor any evidence of attempts to obtain either legal insurance or enter into a form of conditional fee agreement. Moreover, the application had been made very late and only after a prompting at the last interlocutory hearing. There was no evidence of ill health to support an explanation for the delay. For these reasons, the Claimant had failed to satisfy the burden of showing immediate need of financial assistance. It was not strictly necessary to consider whether the Claimant would satisfy a merits test which, given the nature of an interim order, would require her to show a strong arguable case. In this case, the Defendants disputed much of the Claimant’s evidence as to the nature and duration of the relationship with the deceased and as to the degree of financial support she received. It was thus not the case that the principle of entitlement had been accepted and that the only issue was as to quantum. In those circumstances, it would be wrong to make an order for interim relief where there was absolutely no security or even very much likelihood that it would be repaid, and the making of an interim payment would effectively be prejudging a part of the substantive claim in a manner that would not be right on the facts of the case.

LIEVEN J Introduction [1] I need to start by giving a ruling as to whether I am going to give this judgment in open court or not. This is a case under the Inheritance Act 1975 where an application is made before me under s5 of that Act for interim relief, ‘an interim payment.’ [2] …
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Counsel Details

Ms Allardice appeared on behalf of the Claimant

Mr James Weale (Serle Court Chambers, 6 New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, London ,WC2A 3QS, tel +44 (0) 20 7242 6105, email clerks@serlecourt.co.uk) appeared on behalf of the First, Second, Third and Fifth Defendants

Ms Lister appeared on behalf of the Fourth Defendant

Cases Referenced

Legislation Referenced

  • Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, ss1 & 5