After a bruising legal battle, which has cost more than £1.3 million in fees, a Yorkshire doctor has won the right to inherit her late parents’ farm, which is valued at £2.3 million.
In 1993, Dr Christine Gill’s parents made wills which left their estates to each other and, on the second death, passed the estate in its entirety to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). It was Dr Gill’s contention that her mother, who was predeceased by her father, was forced by him to write a will ‘mirroring’ his own.
Dr Gill had helped to manage the family farm for many years and had been assured repeatedly that it would pass to her when her parents died.
In the High Court, it was ruled that Dr Gill had a legitimate expectation to inherit the farm. The RSPCA has sought leave to appeal against the decision and is requesting the Court to order Dr Gill to pay £400,000 towards its costs, arguing that it had previously offered to settle the dispute in exchange for a payment of £650,000 by Dr Gill. Dr Gill’s costs are said to exceed £900,000.
The charity’s legal advisers claimed that it was ‘legally obliged’ to fight the case, a claim that was ridiculed by Dr Gill’s lawyers.