Lettice v Lettice

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMaster McQuail
Judgment Date29 November 2022
Neutral Citation[2022] EWHC 3013 (Ch)
Docket NumberClaim No. PT-2020-000320
CourtChancery Division
(1) Anne Lettice
(1) Linda Lettice (As Executor and Beneficiary of the Estate of Margaret Lettice Deceased)
(2) Frederick Michael Lettice
(3) Peter Lettice
(4) Sylvia Ricks
(5) Brian Lettice
(6) Samuel Lettice
(7) Emilie Lettice
(8) Janine Higgins
(9) Fleur Louise Nicholls
(10) Vandra Lee Wyatt
(11) Nina Ricks

[2022] EWHC 3013 (Ch)


Deputy Master McQuail

Claim No. PT-2020-000320




Royal Courts of Justice, Rolls Building

Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1NL

The Claimant in person

Mrs Anna Metcalfe (instructed by Lupton Fawcett) for the Defendants (as beneficiaries) apart from the Eighth Defendant

The Eighth Defendant attending in person

Spencer Lewis of Martin Shepherd LLP for the First Defendant as personal representative

Hearing dates: 27, 28 and 29 September 2022

Approved Judgment

This judgment will be handed down remotely by circulation to the parties' representatives by email and release to The National Archives. The date and time for hand-down is deemed to be 10:00 am on Tuesday 29 November 2022.

Master McQuail Deputy

This is my judgment following the trial of proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) brought by Anne Lettice against the estate of her late mother, Margaret Lettice. I will refer to Margaret and her family members by their first names in the remainder of this judgment, without intending any disrespect.

Background to the Proceedings


Margaret was born on 15 July 1919 in Ireland and died on 15 April 2019 in London aged 99. She moved to England in the middle of the last century. She married, and she and her husband, Frederick, had six children. They moved, with their children, to 94 Warham Road, Harringay (“the Property”) in the mid-sixties and lived there together until his death on 11 November 2001.


Margaret's children are Frederick (dob 30 August 1950), Anne (dob 22 April 1952), Peter (dob 22 June 1953), Sylvia (dob 15 April 1956), Brian (dob 1 May 1959) and Linda (dob 25 May 1961). Margaret's grandchildren are Frederick's children, Samuel and Emilie, Anne's daughter, Janine, Peter's daughters, Fleur and Vandra, and Sylvia's daughter, Nina Ricks. The grandchildren are all adults.


By her last will dated 12 August 2014 (“the 2014 Will”) Margaret left her estate as follows:

(i) the Property to be sold and divided into 6 shares of which:

(a) one share is to pass to Linda;

(b) one share is to pass to Brian;

(c) one share is to pass as to 70% to Anne and as to 30% to Janine;

(d) one share is to pass as to 40% to Frederick and as to 30% each to Samuel and Emilie;

(e) one share is to pass as to 40% to Peter and as to 30% each to Fleur and Vandra;

(f) one share is to pass as to 70% to Sylvia and as to 30% to Nina; and

(ii) the residue is to be held on trust for her six children in equal shares absolutely.


The 2014 Will appointed Frederick, Peter and Linda as executors. Linda, acting by Martin Shepherd solicitors, extracted a grant of probate from the Newcastle District Registry on 24 October 2019 with power reserved to the other executors.


The most recent draft estate accounts prepared by Martin Shepherd date from August of this year and show the residue to be £20,631.01, of which one sixth is £3,438.50. The latest valuation of the Property also dates from August of this year and gives £875,000 as the guide price for sale. One sixth of that amount is £145,833.33 and 70% of that is £105,521.83. The completed IHT400 shows that there is no inheritance tax to pay in Margaret's estate.


By a Part 8 claim form dated 21 April 2020 Anne, who was at that stage represented by solicitors, commenced these proceedings. Anne seeks:

“an order for reasonable financial provision to be made to her from the Deceased's estate under s.2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”):

(a) pursuant to section 1(1)(c) of the 1975 Act as a child of the Deceased; or

(b) pursuant to section 1(1)(e) of the 1975 Act as someone who, immediately before the death of the Deceased was being maintained by her.”


“An order that such reasonable financial provision as the Court thinks fit be made to the Claimant from the net estate of the Deceased.

An order pursuant to section 9 of the 1975 Act that the whole, or alternatively such part as the court considers appropriate of any bank account the Deceased held jointly with any other party on death be treated as part of the Deceased's estate and further, or alternatively a declaration that any such account is held by the joint account holder upon trust for the estate upon such terms as the court considers fit Such further or other relief as shall be just



The Claim Form was supported by a statement made by Anne dated 16 April 2020.


The only named defendant to the original claim form was Linda, as personal representative of Margaret. An amended claim form naming all the other beneficiaries of the 2014 Will as additional defendants was issued on 25 November 2020.


Janine filed an acknowledgment of service dated 17 December 2020 stating:

“I would ask the court record reflect my neutrality in that I have not contested this claim at any point, I would therefore ask that I am not held liable for any costs in relation to this case.”


Pursuant to directions of Chief Master Marsh the other defendants, who had all indicated their intention to contest the claim, filed evidence on which they intended to rely in late 2020 and early 2021. Anne filed her second witness statement dated 8 February 2021 in reply. Exhibited to it was a witness statement of Janine.


An order declaring that Anne's solicitors were no longer acting and removing them from the record was made on 16 December 2021.


Anne appeared at trial in person. Janine attended the trial remotely by CVP but took no active part. Anne decided not to call Janine as a witness, and I place no reliance on her witness statement. The other defendants in their capacity as beneficiaries appeared by Mrs Anna Metcalfe of counsel. A representative from Martin Shepherd, acting for Linda in the administration, put in a brief position statement and was present at trial.



The witnesses who gave evidence in Court were Anne, Linda, Sylvia, Brian and Nina. Peter and Frederick gave evidence by CVP from the same location in Australia, to which country they both emigrated many years ago. Linda's partner, Simon Rayner, also gave evidence by CVP from their home in Cornwall. Hearsay notices were served in respect of statements made by Samuel, Emilie and Fleur, who live in Australia. Additionally, hearsay notices were served in respect of statements made by Sheila Duffy, who is Margaret's niece and lives in the USA, and Germain Ng, the Parish Secretary of the Catholic Church, St John Vianney, London N15 which was the church attended by Margaret in later life.


In addition, the trial bundle included two brief letters apparently written by neighbours in support of Anne's case as to the care she claimed to have given to Margaret. Neither neighbour was called to give evidence and no hearsay notices were served. In each case there was an issue whether the content of the letters had been suggested by Anne. I take no account of the content of those letters.

Anne's evidence


Anne was not a satisfactory witness. She failed to provide answers or explanations when it did not suit her to do so and admitted that in certain respects her witness statements were wrong. I cannot accept Anne's evidence unless it is either inherently plausible or independently corroborated.


The particularly unsatisfactory aspects of her evidence were that:

(i) neither of Anne's witness statements dealt with her status as an ordained minister (of a church of which she was unable or unwilling to provide the name) or with the amount of her time that she devotes to following that vocation. Despite being asked, more than once, at what time of day she would leave the Property to pursue her vocational activities Anne would not give either counsel or me a clear answer;

(ii) Anne claimed in her first statement to have provided “round the clock care” for Margaret for 17 years and claimed the necessity for providing care “full time” was incompatible with her having a job. Anne's own second statement acknowledged that her siblings shared in providing such care and support as Margaret actually required from time to time. Anne gave no realistic account of what full time care meant either in her witness statements or orally. In evidence Anne at one stage retorted to counsel “you make it sound as though I needed to be there 24 hours a day. Nobody stays in a house 24 hours a day. …. I have a life to live.”

(iii) in her first witness statement Anne stated “my financial dependence on my mother was a direct consequence of my mother's wish for me to give up work and care for her” and “my mother therefore had a very high degree of responsibility to take care of my future needs”. When cross-examined she said that neither statement was true. (iv) Anne acknowledged that the schedule of her claimed financial needs exhibited to her first statement was in some respects the product of her then solicitor's suggestions as to what she might be able to claim in the current proceedings;

(v) Anne's evidence about her finances was not straightforward or complete. Anne did not explain what income she received in the years between about 2002 and reaching state pension age in 2014. So far as regular deposits of cash were made into her bank account for the only year for which her bank statements were disclosed, her explanation was not credible.

The Evidence of Anne's Siblings


Quite apart from the hostile content of their witness...

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