The Court of Appeal case of Ilott v Mitson attracted much attention when Mrs Jackson’s Will leaving her estate to three well known animal charities was successfully challenged by her estranged daughter, Mrs Ilott.
Mrs Ilott’s successful claim was first heard in 2007 when she was awarded £50,000 from the estate on the basis that her mother had not made reasonable financial provision for her. In July last year Mrs Illott made a successful challenge against the amount of the award. The Court of Appeal decided that the amount awarded to Mrs Ilott should not be limited by the fact that she had not expected to receive anything from her mother’s estate and that, as she was claiming welfare benefits, she had a limited income. The Court also felt that it was essential to preserve Mrs Ilott’s benefits’ entitlement and structured the new increased award to her in a way that they thought would do so. It was held that Mrs Ilott’s financial resources were at such a basic level that this outweighed the fact that she was an adult child living independently of her mother. The Court awarded Mrs Ilott an increased capital sum of £143,000 with the option of requesting a further £20,000.
Historically, adult, financially independent children have had to show special circumstances to succeed in a claim but this case and others have established that, although this will still be a factor in the claim, it is possible to succeed without showing such special circumstances. The animal charities have now, however, appealed to the Supreme Court against the increased award and the Court will consider whether the Court of Appeal was wrong to structure the award to preserve benefits entitlement and the basis on which it had decided the amount of the award.
We await the hearing and will report on the result, although it is important to note that Mrs Ilott’s claim was successful in principle back in 2007 and it is quantification of the amount of the claim that has proven so litigious.