23 March 2018
In this briefing, Penelope Reed QC of 5 Stone Buildings will look at Shah v Forsters LLP.
Ms Reed acted for the executors of the late Mrs Collins in a professional negligence claim arising out of the drafting of Mrs Collins' will. Mrs Collins had, unexpectedly, died before her husband. The claim arose because her share of assets owned jointly with her husband passed on her death to Mr Collins. Her executors' complaint was that she could have arranged for her share to pass under the terms of her will to her chosen beneficiaries (which did not include her husband).
The allegation was that if the solicitor who drafted Mrs Collins' will had reviewed Mr Collins' will (and he had a copy at the time he saw Mrs Collins) he would have realised that Mrs Collins could sever the joint ownership without any risk because Mr Collins was leaving his share of the assets to his wife under the terms of his will.
The case received considerable coverage largely hostile to the National Trust which benefited from Mr Collins' estate, although ironically National Trust played no part in the litigation. The issue of joint ownership is fraught with risk for solicitors and other professionals drafting wills. Ms Reed, co-author of Risk and Negligence in Wills, Estates and Trusts (amongst other texts), will address the underlying factors in the decision, the application of the law and lessons to be learned for solicitors and others.