27 October 2017

Losing counsel series | Butler and Butler v Butler and Butler - dividing the indivisible?


Paul Hewitt
Partner | UK

12.45pm – 2.00pm

Joseph Wigley of 4 Stone Buildings appeared for the defendants in a dispute with their siblings over 502 items of 17th century Chinese porcelain which constituted a collection of 'unique and outstanding importance to the study of appreciation of Chinese art and culture in the 17th century'. The collection was put together by their father, Sir Michael Butler.

Sir Michael and Lady Butler had gifted the collection during their lifetime to their four children 'as beneficial tenants in common in equal shares absolutely'. Sir Michael had expressed the desire that the collection be maintained as one entity.

The claimant siblings issued Part 8 proceedings on the basis that they were '…persons interested in a moiety or upwards' (s.188 LPA 1925) seeking an order for division.

Arguments centred on
(i) whether the claimants had standing under s.188
(ii) whether the gift was of a collection or individual items, and
(iii) what, if any, order should be made as to division.

The Judgment contains the first judicial analysis of how to approach the division of assets forming a collection.

Mr Wigley will consider the limited English and relevant Commonwealth case law, factors which (may have) influenced judicial thinking, and the decision's implications for estate practitioners in particular.

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