The recent decision of HJJ Matthews in the case of Lewis & Ors v Tamplin & Ors (2018) EWHC 777 Ch has clarified the rules surrounding the rights of beneficiaries to demand disclosure of documents and information from trustees.
The case concerned land held on trust by the Defendants for nine extended family members, including themselves and the Claimants. A number of requests were made to the trustees for information about the trust. This had been denied. For a period of time the trustees had denied that the claimants and others were beneficiaries, although by the time the case was heard beneficial status had been established. The Claimants sought disclosure through an Application under CPR r 31.16 and a subsequent Claim on trust grounds. The remaining beneficiaries came to support the Claimants during proceedings.
In April 2017 the UK government began a Consultation calling for evidence regarding the planned new register of beneficial ownership information for overseas legal entities. This is part of a broader push on transparency of ownership and follows the 2016 establishment of a central register of people that have significant control of UK companies (PSC Register).
The planned new register is intended to be broader than the PSC Register and will require the registration of (a) new purchases of, or acquisitions of long leasehold interests in, UK property; or (b) any sale, long lease or mortgage of UK property already owned by an overseas entity. As with the PSC the intent is to make the job of enforcement agencies easier and to discourage criminals and the corrupt from choosing to hide or launder their money in the UK.
“Tracing” allows a claimant to locate misappropriated assets in order to assert their property rights and seek an appropriate remedy by identifying the value of an asset into substitutes it has been exchanged for.
As an interesting contrast to our previous blogpost, the recent High Court case of Habberfield v Habberfield  EWHC 317 (Ch) has seen a successful “proprietary estoppel” claim.
The facts are in many respects classic proprietary estoppel material. Proprietary estoppel prevents the “unconscionable” denial of an interest in property. Such an interest arises where a claimant (this being the rare case of an estoppel that can be used as a claim and not just a defence) proves that they have acted to their detriment in reliance on a promise by the owner that they would receive a share of the property.
If you own pets, livestock, or other animals you may be liable for any damage they commit. If you keep any animal, you have a duty of care to prevent them from causing harm. If you fail to do so, you can be exposed to civil liability with anyone who has been harmed being able to take action against you for any loss or injury. This is consistent with wider tort law with you as the owner being liable reflecting the fact that making an animal a defendant is not exactly a viable option.
The High Court has clarified matters relating to the legal concepts of proprietary estoppel and testamentary capacity in the case of James v James and others  EWHC 43 (Ch). In short, proving that you are entitled to property on the basis of a promise and retrospectively showing that a will is invalid due to lack of capacity are both high hurdles
It’s that time of year again where you will make New Year Resolutions. Ones which will make your life easier but that are given up a few months later.
This year, why not make a resolution that is both achievable and can protect you legally.
You pay your mortgage every month, it’s your name on the papers, so your house is all yours. Simple, right? Not for more than 1.2 million houses across England.