Court Of Appeal Quashes Conviction In Forged Will Case

Decision Overturned After Discovery Of Second Version Of Document

06.08.2014

The Court of Appeal has quashed the conviction of a woman found guilty in a case related to a forged will, after a second copy of the disputed document was located.

Gillian Clemo of Cardiff was fined and ordered to pay court costs in 2011 after she was found guilty of using a forged will to prevent her partner Chris John’s former wife from accessing a share of his estate.

However, the decision has now been overturned after another copy of the will was located in a storage unit in London, with evidence suggesting that suspicious indentations seen on the original were caused by Mr John signing one while it rested on top of the other.

Mrs Clemo had always denied using a false document following the death of Mr John, who passed away suddenly from a brain haemorrhage in 2008. The document stated that the majority of the estate of Mr John, a property tycoon, should be held in a trust for his daughter until she reaches 27.

Commenting on the case, Lord Justice Treacy said: “Evidence has now emerged which appears to us to add materially to the case advanced by the defence at trial. It does lead us to the firm conclusion that this conviction should be regarded as unsafe.”

Expert Opinion
This case demonstrates the seriousness with which the issue of forged wills is handled by the courts, but also how they will not delay in overturning a decision if evidence emerges which demonstrates that a ruling was incorrect.

"Family life in the 21st century is by its very nature incredibly complex and this is something that a case like this does highlight. With more and more people separating, remarrying or meeting new partners, it means wills are incredibly important.

"However, it also means that those preparing such documents need to ensure all of their loved ones are informed of and understand the terms contained within them.

"It is hugely important to ensure that everyone affected by a will is aware of what to expect, the reasons behind the decisions made and how they will affect them – which should go some way to preventing disputes from arising.

"We would urge anyone affected by similar issues to seek legal advice and see if there may be scope for them to access the share of an estate that they feel they deserve."
Julia Burns, Associate