John Clitheroe and Irwin Mitchell Looking To Overturn First Instance Decision
A son looking to have his mother’s two wills reinstated will have his case heard by the High Court today (23 March).
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 case was granted permission in November 2020 to be heard by a High Court judge after the May 2020 judgment ruled both of Jean Clitheroe’s wills invalid because of mental capacity issues Jean allegedly displayed after the death of her daughter, Debs, in 2009.
John’s expert will dispute lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say the case challenges 150-year-old case law and that getting justice for John, who spent years looking after his mother, was paramount.
Expert Opinion“We’re taking the case to the High Court today because John firmly believes his mother’s legacy should be respected.
“Family disputes are rarely clear-cut and the decision clearly deserves a second opinion. Crucially, 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.
“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 in force for thirteen years now, it makes sense for will disputes to fall in line with modern legislation and modern thinking around mental capacity issues.
“The initial judgment was extremely upsetting for John and his family, and the last thing anyone wants is more stress and heartbreak, but the matter of someone having the freedom to leave their assets to whomever they wish is too great to ignore.” 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 because 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 and were caused by Jean suffering from 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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