What is Fraudulent Calumny?

Fraudulent calumny is a form of fraud whereby a false representation about the character of an individual is made to the testator for the purpose of persuading the testator to exclude that individual from any benefit in his or her will. In the case of Re Edwards [2007] the following was stated:

"The basic idea is that if A poisons the testator's mind against B, who would otherwise be a natural beneficiary of the testator's bounty, by casting dishonest aspersions on his character, then the will is liable to be set aside."

The difference between undue influence and fraudulent calumny is subtle. Undue Influence is where the testator is unduly pressured or coerced into making his or her will in a particular way whereas Fraudulent Calumny is where false perceptions are made about an individual which encourages the testator to exclude that individual from their will.

The case referred to above also stipulates the criteria required to prove fraudulent calumny.

Fraudulent Calumny in Action

In the recent case of Marcou v Christodoulides [2017], Mr Recorder Lawrence Cohen QC held that a will had been procured by "fraudulent calumny".

In this case, the Deceased, Agni Lacovou was survived by her two daughters, namely Niki Christodoulides (“Niki”) and Androulla Marcou (“Andre”). Agni died in 2012 leaving a Will which left everything to Niki. This is because Agni believed that Andre had already received a substantial amount of assets by helping herself.

Andre challenged the Will and claimed it was invalid on two grounds:

(i) The Will was made at a time when Agni was suffering from undue influence of Niki; and/or (ii) The Will was procured by the fraudulent calumny of Niki.

Andre’s case was that she had not received substantial sums from her mother and that Niki had poisoned Agni’s mind causing Agni to exclude Andre from benefiting under the Will. As expected, Niki denied this.

The Court agreed with Andre and held that Agni’s Will had been procured by the fraudulent calumny of Niki and declared the Will invalid.