Professional Negligence Solicitor, Lee Dawkins, reports on a Supreme Court ruling that the conduct of negligent solicitors which led to a Will dispute should pay the legal costs
A firm of negligent solicitors has been ordered to pay the costs of a Will dispute which arose when a married couple incorrectly signed each other’s Will.
The case (which we have featured in an earlier article on this site) centred on Alfred and Maureen Rawlings. It was only after the couple had died that it was discovered that each had signed the other’s Will.
Alfred and Maureen had intended to leave their estate to Terry Marley, a close friend, rather than their children.
When their children found out, they contested the Will. They argued that the Will was invalid and that they should therefore inherit their parents’ estate under the rules of intestacy.
The case made legal history when, to the surprise of many legal commentators, the Supreme Court concluded that both Alfred and Maureen’s Wills were in fact valid. This meant that the estate would pass to Terry Marley and left both Mr Marley the Rawlings’ children facing a significant costs bill.
It was argued that the dispute had arisen as a result of the solicitor’s professional negligence. Therefore, it should be the solicitors responsibility to pay the costs of the dispute, especially following their insurers decision to fund the appellants costs.
The Supreme Court sympathised with the parties’ position, ordering that the solicitor’s insurers foot part of the bill for the court proceedings.