Re Seagrave (Deceased)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtChancery Division
Judgment Date23 Mar 2007
Neutral Citation[2007] EWHC 1247 (Ch),[2007] EWHC 788 (Ch)
Docket NumberCLAIM NO: HC06C02846

[2007] EWHC 1247 (Ch)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

His Honour Judge Mackie QC in the Estate of Derek Seagrave Deceased

CLAIM NO: HC06C02846

CHANCERY DIVISION

Between
Julia Maria O'brien
Appellants
and
Lee John Seagrave (1)
Jeanette Maureen Seagrave (2)
Respondents

Mr Mark Dencer (instructed by Knowles Benning) appeared for the Appellant Claimant

Mr Giles Harrap (instructed by Dixon Street) appeared for the Respondent Defendant.

1

This appeal concerns the nature of the “interest”, a requirement currently set out in CPR 57.7, which a Claimant must have to be able to bring a Probate action. In particular can a Claimant who will receive nothing either under the contested will or on intestacy, but whose admitted right to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act would be affected by the outcome, bring a probate action? The appeal is against the order made by Master Price on 2 November 2006 striking out the Claim Form because it failed to disclose reasonable grounds for bringing a Probate claim and to comply with CPR 57.7. The Master gave permission to appeal and expressed reservations about the outcome with which he felt uncomfortable.

The parties and the background

2

The Claimant Ms O'Brien for some 12 years lived and shared her life with Mr Derek Seagrave who died on 17 January 2005. The Second Defendant is the former wife of Mr Seagrave from whom she separated in about 1992. They divorced and a decree nisi was obtained on 3 August 2004. The First Defendant is the son of the Second Defendant but not of Mr Seagrave and is thus the Deceased's step son. The Estate is modest,about £80,000. Some time after Mr Seagrave's death on 17 January 2005 a will was produced by the Defendants who obtained a grant of probate on 2 September 2005. The beneficiaries under the will are the First Defendant and his children. On 22 March 2006 the Claimant brought this action seeking a declaration that the will was invalid, that the Deceased died intestate and that the probate be revoked on the grounds that the will was forged by the First Defendant or obtained by undue influence. The Claimant relies upon the facts that the will was created without any solicitor involvement but witnessed by the partner and a friend of the First Defendant, that the signature on the will of DM Seagrave reads “J Seagrave”, that the Deceased apparently mentioned the will to no one prior to his death and upon the improbability of the Deceased appointing to be one of his executors his long estranged and very recently divorced ex wife. There will also apparently be evidence that the Deceased could not have been at the home of the First Defendant at the time he is said to have executed the will there. The Defendants maintain that the signature of the deceased is genuine and was witnessed by reliable witnesses, that the Deceased had a continuing and caring relationship with his ex wife, that he was capable of driving to the home of the First Defendant at any time up until his death and that while the signature on the will looks like “J Seagrave” it is the Deceased's true signature.

3

If the will is upheld then the Claimant's claim for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 will be brought in a context where the only surviving relation by blood or marriage will be the deceased's brother James. He does not wish to be party to any proceedings and is an elderly gentleman well provided for unlikely to resist the Claimant's action. If the will is upheld then the Defendants will no doubt vigorously assert the interests of the infant beneficiaries. It is conceded that the Claimant's statutory claim will be more valuable on intestacy than if the will is upheld. But the Defendants say the Claimant cannot bring this action because she has not stated, and more importantly does not have, an interest to bring this action.

The issue and the contentions of the parties

4

CPR 57.7 (1) states “the claim form must contain a statement of the nature of the interest of the Claimant and of each Defendant in the estate”. CPR 57.7(2) states “if a party disputes another party's interest in the estate he must state this in his statement of case and set out his reasons”.

5

The Defendants take no point on the procedural matter of the interest not being set out in the pleading, their concern of substance being that if the Claimant is wholly successful she gains no interest or possible interest in the estate by the proceedings. The only effect of the Claimant winning this case would be that the Estate would pass to the Deceased's brother James. The Defendants submit that the Claimant is seeking a collateral advantage for other proceedings that she will bring separately under the Act. Mr Harrap submits that the relevant law is set out in Tristram & Coote's Probate Practice (29...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16 cases
  • R v Tilley (Christopher)
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
    • 20 July 2009
    ...of obtaining assistance from Hansard as to the true construction of the section. In Thet v Director of Public Prosecutions [2007] 1 WLR 2002. Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers C.J said at p. 227 para 15: “I would, however, question the use of Pepper v Hart [1993] AC 593 in the context of a c......
  • Colin Alan Randall v Hilary Ann Jocelyn Randall
    • United Kingdom
    • Chancery Division
    • 7 October 2014
    ...a mandatory substantive requirement that cannot be dispensed with or abolished. That was made clear in the case of O'Brien v Seagrave [2007] EWHC 788 (Ch) at paragraph 8 where HHJ Mackie QC stated: "I first dispose of Mr Dencer's fallback arguments. First he accepts that it is not ope......
  • Coral Reef Ltd v Silverbond Enterprises Ltd and Another
    • United Kingdom
    • Chancery Division
    • 20 April 2016
    ...conclusions. In one, Green v Briscoe [2005] EWHC 809 (Ch), Master Bragge had decided that it did not. In the other, O'Brien v Seagrave [2007] EWHC 788 (Ch) (which was an appeal from Master Price, later in time) HHJ Mackie QC sitting as a High Court Judge decided that it did. 32 HHJ Mackie Q......
  • Randall v Randall
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 27 May 2016
    ...of interest that CPR 57 is talking about" (para 20). 19 A different view was expressed by Judge Mackie QC in O'Brien v Seagrave [2007] EWHC 788 (Ch). Like Green, this case concerned the question whether a claim under the 1975 Act gave the claimant an interest in the estate within the m......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT