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27.01.11

Judgment in Ferneley v Napier [2010] EWHC 3345

Judgment was handed down at the end of last term in Ferneley v Napier[2010] EWHC 3345 (Ch), in which Nathan Wells appeared for the successful Defendants.

The case, which ran over 8 days, involved a Sugden v Lord St Leonardsclaim in which the Claimant (who had been in a relationship with the Deceased) sought to propound an alleged 2007 Will on the basis of oral evidence. She claimed that two of the Defendants had fraudulently suppressed the alleged Will and that a third party had heard it being read out during a visit to the Deceased’s property.

Mann J, in giving judgment, clarified the standard of proof applicable to such cases, holding that the Claimant had to make out her case to the ordinary civil standard, but adding that “the substitution of parol evidence for the sort of physical evidence which underlies the policy of the Wills Act 1837 provisions requires clear proof, and it is not to be lightly done…It is akin to the principle that more serious allegations, such as fraud, require clearer proof”.

On the evidence, the judge held that the Claimant had failed to make out her case, and dismissed her claim with costs.

Nathan was instructed by Penningtons LLP.

Please click here to view a copy of the judgment.

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