You may have read in this week’s news about a Court of Appeal decision given in the case of Watts v Watts which left one of the two children of Valerie Watts facing a bill for £340,000 from his sister’s solicitors.
The decision handed down by the Court of Appeal on 21 December 2015 was, in fact, an appeal against an initial decision handed down in March 2014 following a four day hearing.
Initially, Gary Watts lost a High Court action as his sister successfully claimed that a Will apparently made by their mother in 2011 leaving everything to him was a forgery. The Court accepted this case having heard from both parties, the Deceased’s sister and a nurse who had signed as an apparent witness to the Will and two handwriting experts.
Mr Watts appealed against that decision on the basis that the Judge hearing the case, Catherine Newman QC (who was sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) should have recused herself from the original trial.
Gary Watts averred that Deputy Judge Newman QC should not have heard the trial on the basis that there was an appearance of bias. The reason for this was due to the fact that, at the time of the trial, she was acting alongside (or “leading”) his Opponent’s Barrister, Mr Jordan Holland in a separate and unconnected matter.
Having lost the case in 2014, Judge Newman QC having found that the Will was forged, Gary Watts was ordered to pay his sister’s legal costs.
He has now lost the appeal against the decision with the Court of Appeal Judge finding that “to my mind it is clear that she [the Judge] behaved entirely correctly and within the disclosure that she did”.
Gary Watts is now facing homelessness as a result of his actions.
The Judgment is a timely reminder that attempting to forge a Will can have extremely serious consequences.
It also however, highlights the fact that careful consideration must be given before embarking on any legal action (whether it being an initial claim or an appeal) without first obtaining specialist legal advice.
If you have any queries regarding concerns relating to Wills, their validity or are unhappy at the provisions of a Will, please contact our Inheritance Trust and Estate Disputes team on 0114 218 400 or visit www.tayloremmet.co.uk