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Frettens Litigator Wins High Court Case

View profile for Michelle Hayter
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On 28th February 2011 a judgment was formally handed down in the High Court in a case which had attracted national press attention because it surrounded the Will and Estate of the late Paula Beken, the wife of the late Keith Beken, a famous photographer and artist.

The Frettens Solicitors Litigation Team, led by Litigation Partner Michelle Hayter, successfully represented two Executor clients in the case which involved a disputed inheritance claim brought by a beneficiary against the Executors of a Will for the sum of £165,000 plus costs.

Michelle commented “This has been a long and demanding case, especially for our clients, who have endured 11 months of waiting for the judgment. It was particularly distressing for one of my clients because we were defending a claim brought by his own daughter in respect of her grandmother’s Will. We are all extremely pleased with the outcome.”

Frettens’ clients defended a claim over an alleged failure by the Executors to administer the Estate properly. The client’s daughter sued the Executors of the Will, one of whom is her father. Both the father and daughter were beneficiaries of the estate. The daughter claimed that the executors did not maximise the income from a five bedroom Isle of Wight property, claiming it should have been rented out during the five years before its sale. The daughter claimed for an additional £165,000, after receiving a third of the profit from the £885,000 sale, because she claimed the Executors breached their duties as trustees. She claimed wilful default against the Executors, believing her father should have sold the house in 2002 or rented it out.

The judge found that the daughter suffered no loss due to the increase in the value of the property, which had risen by approximately £300,000, and the reduction in the liability to pay capital gains tax.

Michelle concludes “In real terms, this verdict has saved our clients over £400,000 in damages and costs; they will also obtain reimbursement of their legal fees from the daughter. It is a tremendously rewarding outcome, our clients are extremely relieved and they can now move on with their lives.” The outcome of the case is expected to attract further national media coverage due to the high profile of Mr Beken.