In Bhusate v Patel & Ors the High Court granted permission to the claimant bring a claim under the Inheritance Act despite it being issued some 25 years after the deadline for doing so, after the Claimant demonstrated ‘compelling reasons’ why it was right and proper that the court should exercise its discretion in her favour.
The Inheritance Act limits parties to six months for bringing claims.
The judgment also disputes the reasoning of a High Court judge who considered another out-of-time application under section 4 of the Act last month in the case of Cowan v Foreman. In Cowan the Judge said ‘robust’ application of the power to extend deadline was consistent with the overriding objective and Civil Procedure Rules requiring compliance and for the court to consider the time and resources allocated to late applications.
Chief Master Marsh said that he had read the Cowan judgment and he did not consider it was right to regard the overriding objective when considering the exercise of discretion under section 4.
In Bhusate, the court ruled the claimant, whose husband died intestate in 1990, was ‘effectively powerless’ to do anything sooner in the absence of agreement or engagement by her stepchildren.
The step-children obstructed the sale of her residential property then ‘did nothing’ to break the impasse for a further 23 years and were hostile.
Chief Master Marsh noted that if the application was not granted, the claimant would be left with no remedy at all and no benefit from her husband’s estate, and would effectively be left homeless. He acknowledged the long period of delay for making a claim to the estate, but it was not correct to say this made it inevitable that the application should be dismissed.
If you are seeking provision from an estate or are looking to defend a claim our Probate Partner Rachel Damianou and Litigation Solicitor Shalish Mehta provide professional and sympathetic assistance. Call Rachel or Shalish on 0161 624 6811(Option 6) or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We can advise you on the appropriate course of action and assist with any legal documents or proceedings that may occur.
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