Posted by James McNeile, Partner
Charities win right to take case to Supreme Court
A group of wildlife charities locked in a long-running inheritance dispute have won permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Blue Cross, the RSPCA and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) had been named as beneficiaries in the Will of Melita Jackson, who left almost the entirety of her £468,000 estate to the organisations.
After various court hearings and appeals, Mrs Jackson’s estranged daughter Heather Ilott was awarded a six-figure share of the assets, having convinced the Court of Appeal that the original award was insufficient.
The Court of Appeal’s decision last summer generated considerable debate, with suggestions that it could open the door to a far greater number of wills being challenged.
Now however, the Supreme Court will consider if the original ruling was appropriate, giving particular attention to the interpretation of the Inheritance Act.
Chris Millward, the chief executive of the Institute of Legacy Management, welcomed the fact that the charities had been given leave to appeal.
“The issue here is that when someone includes in their will a legacy to a charity of their choice, they fully expect their wishes to be honoured,” he said.
“Previous rulings went against that commonly accepted expectation and were of concern to many of our members.
“This case has been in and out of the courts for nearly a decade. With this latest announcement we hope a ruling will soon be made that reflects Mrs Jackson’s original wishes and the matter will be closed.”
A date has yet to be set for the hearing, although it is likely to take place next year.
For advice on charitable trusts or bequests please contact Tony Millson or Deanna Hurst.
Keeping you informed about Private Client news, events and opinion.