On 18 February 2022, Deputy Master Rhys handed down judgment in Dawson & Ors v Dawson & Ors  EWHC 341 (Ch), a claim to prove a lost will in solemn form, and a counterclaim in proprietary estoppel. The Claimants were the wife and son of the Deceased and the named executors, and the Defendants were the Deceased’s three daughters.
By his judgment, Deputy Master Rhys granted probate of the missing will in the form of a copy, which had been retained by the firm which drafted the will. The Defendants’ plea of want of knowledge and approval had not been made out, and their allegation that the will had been destroyed animo revocandi also failed on the evidence. Rather, the Deputy Master found that there was no doubt that the copy will was a genuine copy of the validly executed will.
The Defendants had also counterclaimed in proprietary estoppel in respect of a sixteen-acre field on the family farm, which they alleged had been promised to them by their late father. This was an unusual family farm proprietary estoppel case, in that the three daughters had all left the farm in their late teens and very early twenties, and gone on to follow other career paths, while their brother had remained at the farm. The Deputy Master found that no promise of the field had been made, and further that the Defendants’ evidence as regards reliance and detriment was, in various respects, “grossly exaggerated”, “untrue”, “fanciful”, “selective” and “misleading”. Their counterclaim was dismissed.
Lauren Kreamer of Radcliffe Chambers, instructed by Browne Jacobson LLP, acted for the successful Claimants.
The judgement can be read in full , here.