Juliet Antonia Margaret Miles v Pamela Lesley Shearer (as executrix and beneficiary of the estate of Anthony Presley Shearer)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeSir Julian Flaux C
Judgment Date23 April 2021
Neutral Citation[2021] EWHC 1000 (Ch)
Date23 April 2021
Docket NumberCase No: PT-2018-000861
CourtChancery Division
(1) Juliet Antonia Margaret Miles
(2) Lauretta Kate Isabella Shearer
Pamela Lesley Shearer (As executrix and beneficiary of the estate of Anthony Presley Shearer)

[2021] EWHC 1000 (Ch)


Sir Julian Flaux


Case No: PT-2018-000861



Rolls Building

Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1NL

Jordan Holland (instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP) for the Claimants

Barbara Rich (instructed by Cripps Pemberton Greenish) for the Defendant

Hearing dates: 2–5 March 2021

Approved Judgment

I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.

Sir Julian Flaux C



The claimants are the adult daughters of the late Anthony Presley Shearer who died aged 68 on 12 October 2017. The first claimant (to whom I will refer as Juliet, since she was addressed by her first name at the trial) was born on 19 August 1980, so is now 40 years old. The second claimant (to whom I will refer as Lauretta for the same reason) was born on 30 March 1982, so is now 39 years old. The claimants seek an Order that reasonable financial provision be made for them from the estate of their late father (to whom I will refer as Tony, since he was so described at the trial) pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”). Tony was married to their mother Jennifer Shearer (“Jennifer”) for 34 years and their marriage was dissolved in 2007.


Tony's will dated 2 February 2015 makes no provision for either Juliet or Lauretta or their children. The principal beneficiary is his second wife Pamela Shearer (“Pamela”) whom he married shortly after the dissolution of his first marriage. The will appoints her as executor and, after two small legacies, leaves the residuary estate to her.


The will contains substitutionary provisions which would have taken effect if Pamela had predeceased Tony. These provided that the residuary estate would have been held as to 25% each for two of Pamela's friends, as to 25% for Juliet and as to 25% for her two daughters. Pamela made a mirror will at the same time as Tony's. I will return to the question of that will later in the judgment.


Probate was granted on 14 May 2018 and the net value of Tony's estate in the United Kingdom was £2,190,226, with foreign assets in France valued at £3,574. The net estate does not include the flat in Kew jointly owned by Tony and Pamela since 2013 or the property in Provence in which they lived at the time of his death. Claims under section 9 of the 1975 Act to sever the joint tenancy or under section 10 for an Order that the joint tenancy was in some way a disposition to defeat the claimants' claims were not pursued at trial.

The evidence


Before setting out the factual background and my findings in relation to it, I should say something about the evidence. Some of the factual background is common ground or can be discerned from contemporaneous documentation but a great deal of it depends on the evidence of the factual witnesses. Each of the claimants gave evidence at trial and their mother Jennifer also gave evidence for the claimants. The defendant Pamela gave evidence.


Neither of the claimants nor Jennifer was an entirely satisfactory witness. There is no question of their having deliberately misled the Court. I have no doubt that each had convinced herself as to the correctness of her recollection and impression of her respective relationships with Tony and with Pamela but, to a greater or lesser extent, each of them had an axe to grind and was not in any sense objective. I agree with what Miss Barbara Rich, counsel for Pamela, said in her closing submissions, that the evidence, particularly of Juliet and Jennifer, was imbued with and influenced by a sense of entitlement to inherit from Tony's estate to support a standard of living for Juliet and Lauretta and their children that Juliet and Lauretta had enjoyed until their young adulthood, prior to their parents' divorce. This contributed to the lack of objectivity of their evidence.


In contrast, I found Pamela a straightforward and objective witness who gave her evidence in a measured and dignified manner. I consider that her recollection and impression of the relationship between the claimants and their father and herself was far more accurate and reliable than that of the claimants and Jennifer. I also agree with Miss Rich that cross-examination of Pamela by Mr Jordan Holland, counsel for the claimants, did not show that Tony had been an unreliable narrator, in the correspondence and other documents he produced, as to his relationship with the claimants or as to the history of their family life, other than in relation to details, irrelevant to anything I have to determine, of his and Pamela's intimate life. Where the difference between the recollection or impression of the claimants and Jennifer on the one hand and Pamela on the other differed in a way which mattered for what I have to decide, I prefer the evidence of Pamela.


I should add that, very sensibly, although the witness statements of all four witnesses ranged far and wide over the history of family relationships, it was agreed between counsel that cross-examination should be limited to those areas of dispute which were relevant to the issues I have to decide. I am grateful to both counsel for this sensible and pragmatic approach. In accordance with it, I have only set out below those aspects of the factual background and history which are necessary for and relevant to the determination I have to make.

The factual background

Tony's history and the position of the claimants until their parents' marriage broke up


Tony was born on 24 October 1948. His family were comfortably well off and he was privately educated at Rugby School. When he left school, his parents paid for a gap year and 9 months learning French in Lausanne. He then trained for the ACA qualification which was funded by his father, Having qualified as a chartered accountant, he worked in the London office of Deloitte, before being posted to their office in Johannesburg in 1971. Whilst in South Africa he met Jennifer and they were married in December 1972. They moved to London in October 1973. The purchase of their first matrimonial home in Chiswick was funded in part by money from his parents. When that house was sold in 1976, they bought a large house in Suffolk. The additional cost was funded by a loan from his father which was subsequently waived.


Tony became a partner in Deloitte in 1980 and subsequently took on roles as finance director and deputy chief executive in investment management. In the 1980s, he inherited a family estate called Quarter in Scotland. This was sold in the early 1990s. There was some issue at the trial as to how much was made by way of profit from the sale. In a letter which Tony wrote to Lauretta in 2008 (to which I will return below) he said that what he received from the sale was “not that much”. Jennifer's evidence was that the house was sold for £675,000. It is not necessary to resolve this dispute since, as Pamela pointed out in evidence, because he had inherited Quarter, Tony did not benefit from his parents' wills, their estates passing to his siblings. Furthermore, the proceeds from the sale of Quarter were evidently used to purchase and refurbish a house in South Kensington where the claimants lived with their parents as children. Tony sold both that house and the house in Suffolk in 1995. The proceeds were used to purchase a house in Holland Park where the claimants spent their teenage years and early adulthood.


There was also a flat in Holland Road which was held in the names of two friends, one of whom, Chris Chism, had a 23.3% beneficial interest in it. The remainder of the beneficial interest was held as to 42.1% by Tony, 16.5% by Juliet and 18.1% by Lauretta. Pamela thought that the difference between the size of beneficial interest of the two claimants was to be explained by the fact that the flat had been part purchased with money invested by Tony on behalf of each of the claimants when they were children and the investments had performed differently. This seems a distinct possibility and would explain the difference between the amounts of funds provided by Tony to each of the claimants in early 2008, to which I refer further below.


Tony became finance director of the merchant bank Singer & Friedlander (“S & F”) in 2003 and he became chief executive of S & F in 2005. S & F was subject of a hostile takeover by the Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Tony was forced to resign due to concerns about the takeover, which he did with effect from 30 November 2005. It was common ground that these events had a very significant impact on Tony. That was his last chief executive role, although he had a few non-executive directorships thereafter. Furthermore, not long after his resignation from S & F, his marriage to Jennifer broke down.


Before dealing with his relationship with and subsequent marriage to Pamela, I will deal with the position of the claimants up until the breakdown of their parents' marriage. Both claimants were privately educated. Following their A-levels in each case their parents funded gap years. Both went to university, but for different reasons, neither finished her degree course.


Juliet went to University College London to study Classical Civilisation but left after the first year. Her evidence was that she had started temping in the holidays and preferred that. University was not for her. Her father had not been pleased but understood. She had not known what career to follow, but eventually ended up in arts and the theatre, which she'd always enjoyed. She had had a boyfriend...

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