If you’ve already had the Brexit discussion over Christmas dinner, here's another one that guarantees a reaction, and again the Supreme Court is at the eye of the storm. On 12 December (assuming they do not have a Brexit hangover) the eyes of the private client world will be on the court as it deals with the appeal of Ilott v Mitson, also known as Ilot v Blue Cross and others if you are searching. A seven-judge panel is hearing this, reflecting its importance.
This is a case involving a contested inheritance – so potentially inflammatory stuff over dinner, you have been warned – with an application for provision from her mother’s will made by an estranged daughter, relying on the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Broadly, anyone making a will can leave whatever they want to whoever they want. But the 1975 Act provides a statutory basis for members of a deceased's family and some others to apply to court for provision (or additional provision) to be made for them if they do not consider that they have been properly provided for under a will or intestacy. This has been a very active area over the last five years, with a significant increase in the number of cases of this type being brought.
Ilott v Mitson is regarded by many as opening the door to a broader approach to these claims and it is anticipated that the Supreme Court may have something to say about the availability of these claims for adult children of a deceased who are not under a disability. Such applicants have previously been regarded as unlikely to be able to succeed in a claim unless they can show evidence of maintenance. That is not a safe assumption to make at the moment, given the trend of recent cases. However, the thinking is that the Supreme Court will use Ilott v Mitson as an opportunity to clarify the approach that should be taken in these cases, and the judgment will therefore be subject to a lot of attention when it is produced.