Undue influence?

Date01 February 2003
Published date01 February 2003
AuthorAlison Brammer
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Sociology
40 © Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Limited The Journal of Adult Protection Volume 5 Issue 1 • February 2003
Hammond v Osborn and Others [2002] EWCA Civ 885 concerns
application of the presumption of undue influence where a
substantial gift was made by a vulnerable adult to his carer. It
demonstrates the willingness of the courts to set aside such gifts
where it cannot be shown that the person making the gift had
done so after full, free and informed thought.
The facts of Hammond are interesting and set out in some
detail. At the beginning of 1998 Dennis Pritler, a bachelor and
retired teacher aged 72, was living alone in Essex. His physical
mobility was limited and he was dependent on others for
support. Mrs Osborn, who lived in the same street, met Mr
Pritler at the local supermarket. He was distressed, holding onto
railings, and she helped him home. From that time she helped
him with shopping, and regularly visited him. The second
defendant, referred to in the case as ‘another’ was Lee Francis,
the son of Mrs Osborn and a bank manager.
Mrs Osborn became more involved in the care of Mr Pritler
after she found him at his home having collapsed after a fall.
She volunteered to care authorities to provide two meals a day
to Mr Pritler. In October Mr Pritler signed a third party mandate
authorising Mrs Osborn to access his current bank account.
This was used to pay utility and food bills.
On return from hospital Mr Pritler first raised the question of
a gift to Mrs Osborn. On this occasion and two others the
following year Mrs Osborn said nothing in response and
thought he was just being kind. In September 1999, following
another fall Mr Pritler told Mrs Osborn of investments that he
wanted to give to her. He told her specifically where the
paperwork was and that he wanted her to cash in the
investments and keep the money. With the help of her son, Mrs
Osborn did cash in the investments and transferred a total of
£297,005 from Mr Pritler’s current account. Four separate
cheques were drawn, each written out by Mrs Osborn, the first
three signed by Mr Pritler and the final cheque signed by her
under the third party mandate. A house was purchased with
£101,000 of the money transferred to Mr Francis and held in
trust for Mrs Osborn.
The substantial amount of money given to Mrs Osborn
Undue influence? Alison Brammer
Lecturer in Law, University of Keele
This legal column includes
discussion of a recently decided
Court of Appeal case relevant to
vulnerable adults and a review of
Fair Access to Care Services
, the
guidance on eligibility criteria for
adult social care
Legal column

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