Ilott case to be heard by the Supreme Court

Supreme Court in England, UK

The Supreme Court will hear an appeal regarding the Ilot case today (Case ID: UKSC 2015/0203). The case concerns the estate of the late Melita Jackson who died in 2004. Mrs Jackson left the majority of her £486,000 estate to three charities, making no provision for her only child Heather Ilott. The daughter and mother had become estranged many years before, and the daughter’s attempts to reconcile had failed.

Mrs Ilott applied to the Court under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, asking for reasonable financial provision from her late mother’s estate.

DJ Million awarded Mrs Ilott £50,000 but she appealed against the amount.

The case was heard again by Eleanor King J in 2009 on the first appeal. The Judge overturned the previous ruling so that the daughter stood to receive nothing.

In July 2015, the Court of Appeal allowed a further appeal (see: [2015] EWCA Civ 797), setting aside DJ Million’s award and instead awarding her £143,000 to purchase her Housing Association property, plus payments up to £20,000 in cash. These were to be structured so that they would not affect Mrs Ilott’s entitlement to state benefits. The Court took into account that Heather Ilott had five children and very little money. She had also attempted to reconcile with her mother, without success.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court granted the three charities who would have inherited Mrs Jackson’s estate the right to appeal. The three charities bringing the appeal are:

  • The Blue Cross
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The Court will decide:

  • Whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to set aside the award made at first instance on the respondent’s claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • 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.
  • Whether the Court of Appeal erred in its approach to the “maintenance” standard under the 1975 Act.
  • 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.
  • Whether the Court of Appeal erred in its application of the balancing exercise required under the 1975 Act.

Source: Supreme Court

The case has attracted huge interest from the legal profession and it is hoped that the Supreme Court hearing will clarify the application and scope of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 further.

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2 thoughts on “Ilott case to be heard by the Supreme Court”

  1. Is there any idea as to when the Supreme Court will hand down its decision?
    I feel the the 1975 act had become somewhat diluted as to who can file a claim – particularly as to when the person claiming is of good health, established and employed…yet ‘they’ can still claim….makes no sense at all.

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