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In a guideline decision that will be greeted with dismay by those who campaign for the rights of vulnerable migrant workers, the Court of Appeal has ruled that two Nigerian women who were appallingly mistreated by those who employed them as domestic servants were nevertheless not victims of race discrimination.
The Court noted that, although the women’s uncertain immigration status had put them at their employers’ mercy, the absence of a right to live and work in Britain was not a protected characteristic. In those circumstances, they had not been discriminated against on grounds of their non-British nationality.
The two cases had resulted in conflicting decisions by Employment Tribunals (ETs)
A businessman engaged in a marathon dispute with his siblings over their £2 million inheritance has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that his mother was so badly affected by dementia that she lacked the mental capacity to execute a valid will.
Under an earlier will, the businessman had been left a residential property and 16 crucial shares in a family company, which would have given him a controlling interest in the business. But his mother, who died aged 91, made a new will on her 88th birthday, leaving all but £20,000 of her estate equally between her three surviving children and the family of a fourth child who pre-deceased her.
In a sad tale of bitter family acrimony, a judge has ruled that an adopted son forged his mother's signature on her will as she lay dying from cancer on a hospital ward in the belief that he deserved to inherit her entire estate due to the care that he had given her.
The mother, aged in her 70s, was hanging on to life and had a 'do not resuscitate' notice at the end of her hospital bed when she was said to have executed the shop-bought will form. The will left her home and savings – together valued at about £200,000 – to her son and nothing to her daughter, who was also adopted.
The will was apparently signed by the mother and witnessed by her sister and a hospital nurse. However, the judge ruled, "I accept the evidence of the nurse that she did not see the mother sign the paper and that she did see the son sign it. It has not been suggested that both the son and the mother signed the will. I find that the son signed it, not the mother, and that he simulated his mother's signature on it."
In a plot reminiscent of Charles Dickens' 'Bleak House', a judge has warned that a costly family dispute over the will of a successful property entrepreneur could see every penny of his fortune being eaten up by legal costs.
During his working life, the businessman had built up a valuable real estate portfolio. However, his death, aged 76, in September 2007 was the curtain raiser for years of bitter legal strife between his three grown up sons and his second wife – their stepmother – over the terms of his will and the destination of various assets.
The High Court noted that 'upwards of £200,000' in legal costs had been racked up during the businessman’s 'long and acrimonious' divorce from his first wife and the mother of his sons during the 1990s. He had been described as 'devious, wily and cynical' by a divorce judge who had 'urged the parties to find some form of compromise and reminded them of what happened in Bleak House'.
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News & articals on trusts, wills and probate
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