John Clitheroe and Irwin Mitchell Looking To Overturn First Instance Decision
A son looking to have his mother’s two wills reinstated has been granted permission today (27 November) to have his case heard by a High Court judge.
John Clitheroe, who is looking to appeal the first instance decision that overturned his mother Jean Clitheroe’s two wills, instructed leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell to help him after the judgment was in favour of Susan Bond, John’s sister.
The battle between John and his sister, Susan Bond, has been waged since their mother Jean Clitheroe’s death in 2017, and was heard by a Deputy Master in March this year. The judgment was delivered in May 2020, ruling both of Jean’s 2010 and 2013 Wills invalid because of mental capacity issues Jean allegedly displayed after the death of her daughter, Debs, in 2009.
Experts at Irwin Mitchell say the High Court appeal is a significant step towards overturning 150-year-old law and securing justice for John.
Expert Opinion“We’re very pleased that the High Court will hear John’s appeal. As we’ve said before, this is a matter of someone having the freedom to leave their assets to whoever they wish.
“A family dispute is rarely clear cut, and this is no different: John looked after his mother for many years, the expert witnesses disagreed on the mental capacity issues and Mrs Clitheroe went to great lengths to make sure her wills were valid, yet they were both overturned. The decision clearly deserves a second opinion.
“This is also a significant step in changing the law around mental capacity issues in will disputes. At the moment, capacity is measured on case law from 1870. The Mental Capacity Act has been around for thirteen years now, and yet this area of the law lags behind.
“The initial judgment has been of great distress to John, who found it very concerning his mother’s wishes were not upheld. Nobody wants to be in court at a stressful and upsetting time, but John firmly believes his mother’s legacy should be respected.” Nicola Bushby - Partner
Jean Clitheroe died in 2017, leaving almost the entirety of her estate to her son, John. While two Wills had been made and validly executed , her daughter Susan Bond was cut out of both; Jean said Sue was ‘a shopaholic and would just fritter it away’; the second will made wider allegations of theft from the property of Jean’s deceased daughter, Debs.
While John argued both wills were valid, Susan argued the allegations were untrue as Jean had a complex grief reaction to Debra’s death which poisoned her mind against Susan.
The judge found that while John hadn’t interfered in Susan and Jean’s relationship, there was evidence showing Jean suffered from an ‘affective grief disorder’ and that Susan had no noteworthy shopping habits. The 2010 and 2013 wills were both struck out and Jean was ruled to have died intestate.
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