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Cases > Subject : Bias or Miscellaneous or Testamentary capacity cases or Welfare benefits cases & Date: December 2019

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Page name Sentence Summary
Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Derby City Council (2019) EWHC 3436 (Ch)

Charitable status of foundation trusts

Seventeen NHS foundation trusts argued that, as foundation trusts, they were entitled under s43(5) Local Government Finance Act 1988 to the four-fifths reduction in non-domestic rates because they were charities and the relevant properties were wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes. The High Court answered the preliminary question "Whether the Lead Claimant is a charity for the purposes of section 43(6) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988?" in the negative.

Re C (Female Genital Mutilation and Forced Marriage: Fact Finding) (2019) EWHC 3449 (Fam)

Vulnerable witnesses

Paragraphs 14-18 deal with "Assessing the Evidence of Vulnerable Witnesses", including the following: "Despite my very considerable sympathy for witnesses with significant vulnerabilities such as the mother in this case, my clear view is that there is one standard of proof which applies without modification irrespective of the characteristics of witnesses, including vulnerable witnesses to whom Part 3A and PD3AA apply. I observe that many vulnerable witnesses are just as likely as anyone else either to tell the truth or to lie deliberately or misunderstand events. It would be unfair and discriminatory to discount a witness's evidence because of their inherent vulnerabilities (including mental and cognitive disabilities) and it would be equally wrong in principle not to apply a rigorous analysis to a witness's evidence merely because they suffer from mental, cognitive or emotional difficulties. To do otherwise would, in effect, attenuate the standard of proof when applied to witnesses of fact with such vulnerabilities. ... Having said that, I offer the following observations, none of them particularly novel, which might assist in assessing the evidence of vulnerable witnesses, particularly those with learning disabilities. First, it is simplistic to conclude that the evidence of such a witness is inherently unreliable. Second, it is probably unfair to expect the same degree of verbal fluency and articulacy which one might expect in a witness without those problems. Third, it is important not to evaluate the evidence of such a witness on the basis of intuition which may or may not be unconsciously biased. Finally, it is important to take into account and make appropriate allowances for that witness's disability or vulnerability, assisted by any expert or other evidence available."

Re C (Lay Advocates) (2019) EWHC 3738 (Fam)

Lay advocates in public law family proceedings

"In my judgment that there is no material difference between the services provided by an interpreter, an intermediary or a lay advocate insofar as they each enable and support parties and witnesses to communicate and understand these proceedings. HMCTS routinely pay for the services of interpreters and intermediaries, I cannot see any principled reason why it should not also pay for the services of lay advocates in an appropriate case. ... Accordingly, I will appoint a lay advocate for the mother and a lay advocate for the father. They cost £30 per hour which I consider to be entirely reasonable. I have assessed the likely number of hours of work on this for the lay advocates to be 50 hours."

Todd v Parsons (2019) EWHC 3366 (Ch)

Testamentary capacity

"The claim was opposed by the third defendant, challenging that will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval and undue influence. ... The traditional test for capacity is that laid down in Banks v Goodfellow (1870) LR 5 QB 549 ... In James v James [2018] WTLR 1313, I held that the traditional test still applied, and had not been replaced by that contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Neither party argued before me that the test should now be that contained in the 2005 Act, although the third defendant reserved the right to argue otherwise on appeal. ... In my judgment the 2008 will is valid."

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