Edward Hicks appeared in this contentious probate case for the seven eldest children of the late Joyce Beech Catling, successfully challenging the validity of her alleged last will of May 2007, which purported to leave her entire estate to the first defendant, her eighth and youngest son, on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and want of knowledge and approval. The deceased’s earlier 2004 will, which left the estate between the eight children in equal shares, was admitted to proof along with a 2005 codicil.
The deceased was nearly blind and was living with and was dependent on the first defendant and his wife. The first defendant had virtually cut off the other children from contact with the deceased. The second defendant, Claude Wallace, was the executor of the alleged 2007 will. Mr Wallace was found to have made dishonest and fraudulent misrepresentations that he was a barrister. He purported to charge £125 per hour for his time pursuant to a contract, the terms of which he admitted he had not read to the deceased. He stood to benefit considerably if the 2007 will had been proved by reason of a widely drafted clause permitting him remuneration.
He was found to have conspired with the first defendant to unseat the deceased’s long term trusted solicitor and replace him with himself. Mr Wallace claimed to have taken instructions for the 2007 will in December 2005 and January 2006; this was found to be a lie and it was held that the deceased never gave such instructions.
The case was before David Halpern QC sitting as a deputy high court judge,