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Drilldown: Cases

Not many cases (251 of them) have been added to the database so far. To see the full list of cases (2078) go to the Mental health case law page.

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Cases > Subject : Bias or SRA decisions or Testamentary capacity cases or Unfitness and insanity cases or Welfare benefits cases

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Page name Sentence Summary
Blavo and Co Solicitors (SRA decision: closure) (2015) MHLO 70

Reasons for closure of Blavo & Co Solicitors

The SRA closed down Blavo & Co Solicitors and suspended John Blavo's practising certificate, giving the following reasons: (a) there is reason to suspect dishonesty of the part of a manager or employee of Blavo & Co Solicitors Limited; (b) there is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of John Blavo in connection with his practice; (c) to protect the interests of clients of Blavo & Co Solicitors Limited.

Clitheroe v Bond (2020) EWHC 1185 (Ch)

Testamentary capacity

"This is a bitter family dispute between the Claimant brother and Defendant sister as to whether their mother, the deceased, had testamentary capacity to make each of her two wills and in addition or in the alternative whether either or both wills resulted from fraudulent calumny."

DB (as executor of the estate of OE) v SSWP (2018) UKUT 46 (AAC)

Social security appointeeship

"The main grievance of Mr B, who brings this appeal in his capacity as executor of his late Aunt Miss E’s estate, is the Secretary of State’s decision to make Birmingham City Council Miss E’s social security appointee. When the council were made Miss E’s appointee, Mr B held an enduring power of attorney authorising him to deal with her financial affairs. Appointment decisions do not attract a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. Neither that tribunal, nor the Upper Tribunal, has jurisdiction to entertain an ‘appeal’ against an appointment decision. However, I do have some concerns about the way in which the council’s appointment application was handled. I decide to express some views on that subject. My purpose in simply to provide some assistance to the DWP and local authorities in their efforts to operate the appointee system effectively and properly."

James v James (2018) EWHC 43 (Ch)

Banks v Goodfellow test for testamentary capacity survives MCA

"There is a preliminary question of law as to the test to be applied for testamentary capacity in a case like this, where the testator has made a will, died, and then the question of capacity has arisen. The traditional test for such a case is that laid down in Banks v Goodfellow (1870) LR 5 QB 549, 565, per Cockburn CJ: 'It is essential … that a testator shall understand the nature of his act and its effects; shall understand the extent of the property of which he is disposing; shall be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims to which he ought to give effect, and, with a view to the latter object, that no disorder of the mind shall poison his affections, avert his sense of right, or prevent the exercise of his natural faculties, that no insane delusion shall influence his will in disposing of his property and bring about a disposal of it which, if his mind had been sound, would not have been made.' ... More recently the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has made fresh provision for the law of mental capacity in certain situations. What is unfortunately not made express in that legislation is the extent to which this fresh provision affects the test for capacity to make a will when that question is being judged retrospectively (typically, though not necessarily, post mortem). ... The general rule of precedent, as applied in the High Court, is that that court is not strictly bound by decisions of co-ordinate jurisdiction, but will follow them as a matter of comity unless convinced they are wrong ... As it happens, I think the decision in Walker v Badmin [2014] EWHC 71 (Ch)Not on Bailii! [that the test in Banks v Goodfellow not only had survived the enactment of the 2005 Act, but that it, rather than anything in the Act, was still the sole test of capacity for judging will-making capacity in retrospect] is right, and for the reasons given by the deputy judge. ... Whilst it is a complication to have two tests for mental capacity in making wills, one prospective and the other retrospective, it is a complication created by the decision of Parliament to legislate as it has, a decision that the courts must respect."

JG v Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (2019) UKUT 187 (AAC)

Non-legal research by judge

Judicial summary from gov.uk website: "Mental Health First-tier Tribunal - Judicial Bias - Apparent bias - Breach of Natural Justice - Procedural Irregularity. Where a First-tier Tribunal judge undertook non-legal research by accessing a court of appeal judgment in respect of the appellant, did this lead to a presumption of bias and automatic disqualification? Did it lead to a conclusion of a real possibility of bias? Whether so doing amounts to a procedural irregularity leading to a breach of natural justice in that it rendered the hearing unfair. In the circumstances appertaining there can be no presumption of bias leading to automatic disqualification. On the facts of the case there was no real possibility of bias. Undertaking the non-legal research was a procedural irregularity but on the facts the hearing was not unfair."

John Blavo v Law Society (2017) EWHC 561 (Ch)

Statutory demands set aside

"In November 2015 the Law Society served a statutory demand on Mr Blavo claiming that he owed it £151,816.27. In February 2016 the Law Society served a second statutory demand on Mr Blavo claiming that he owed it a further £643,489.20. On 14 December 2015 Mr Blavo applied to set aside the first statutory demand. On 11 March 2016 Mr Blavo applied to set aside the second statutory demand. ... It is the costs of the intervention, from 15 October 2015 to 20 January 2016, into the company and Mr Blavo's practice which are the underlying subject matter of the statutory demands. ... It follows from all I have said that I have concluded that the statutory demands in this case should be set aside because the debts in question are not for liquidated sums."

Loake v CPS (2017) EWHC 2855 (Admin)

Insanity

"For the purposes of this appeal we shall assume that the Appellant pursued a course of conduct which objectively amounted to harassment. The real issue is the question whether the defence of insanity is available on a charge of harassment contrary to Section 2(1) of the PFHA given the terms of Section 1(1)(b). ... It follows that we answer 'Yes' to the question posed in the stated case: 'Is the defence of insanity available for a defendant charged with an offence of harassment, contrary to Section 2(1) PFHA?' ... Finally, we add this. Although in this judgment we have held that the M'Naghten Rules apply to the offence of harassment contrary to Section 2 of the PFHA just as they do to all other criminal offences, this should not be regarded as any encouragement to frequent recourse to a plea of insanity. M'Naghten's Case makes clear that every person is presumed to be sane. The burden lies on a defendant to prove on a balance of probabilities that he or she falls within the M'Naghten Rules. The offences in the PFHA generally require a "course of conduct", that is, conduct on more than one occasion (see Section 7). In practice, prosecutions are generally brought in respect of conduct repeated many times over a significant period. We do not anticipate that someone who has engaged in such conduct will readily be able to show that throughout that period they did not know the nature and quality of their act, or that throughout that time they did not know what they were doing was wrong, in the necessary sense. If the defence is to be relied upon, it will require psychiatric evidence of great cogency addressing the specific questions contained in the M'Naghten Rules. In the Crown Court, by Section 1 of the 1991 Act, the special verdict may not be returned except on the evidence of two registered medical practitioners. In the absence of cogent psychiatric evidence about the specific relevant aspects of a defendant's mental state throughout his alleged course of conduct, we would expect magistrates and judges to deal robustly with claimed defences of insanity."

Maitland-Hudson v SRA (2019) EWHC 67 (Admin)

Dishonest solicitor

"The Appellant appeals against findings of misconduct and dishonesty made against him by ... the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ... Pursuant to those findings, on 2 May 2018 the Appellant was struck off the Roll of Solicitors and ordered to pay the SRA's costs, including £300,000 by way of interim payment. The Tribunal found the Appellant to have been guilty of misconduct "at the highest level", characterised as "deliberate, calculated and repeated… over a number of years". It was aggravated by the Appellant's dishonesty and attempts to defend his conduct. The appeal is based on grounds of alleged procedural unfairness, specifically that the Appellant, a litigant in person, was substantially impaired in his ability to defend himself, to the extent that he admitted himself to hospital. Despite the fact that consultant psychiatrist experts on both sides found that the Appellant was unable to represent himself, the Tribunal refused to dismiss the proceedings on the basis of "incurable unfairness" or even to stay or adjourn their remainder."

Parsonage v Parsonage (2019) EWHC 2362 (Ch)

Validity of will

" The validity of the 2011 Will is challenged by D1 on the grounds that BP lacked capacity (1) to know and understand the nature and effect of the 2011 Will, (2) to know and understand the size of her estate, and/or (3) to know and appreciate the claims to which she ought to give effect. The underlying factual basis of the challenge is the severity or extent of BP's dementia and the circumstances in which the 2011 Will was prepared and executed."

Re M: A v Z (2018) EWCOP 4

COP bias

"This matter concerns an appeal from the order of HHJ Roberts made on 18 July 2018 in Court of Protection (COP) proceedings concerning M. The appellants are M's mother and father in law who have the care of X, M's son age 12. ... Mr Simblet relies on four grounds of appeal: (1) There was apparent bias, in that the judge stated her intention in the exchange between the judge and the legal representatives, in the absence of the parties, to decide the application consistent with decisions made in different proceedings. (2) The judge wrongly felt constrained to reach a decision that would be consistent with a decision she had reached in different proceedings. (3) There was a material irregularity, in that the Judge took into account material from different proceedings, and the [paternal grandparents] within the COP proceedings were unable to properly know the case against them or that they had to meet. (4) In reaching her decision the judge failed to identify or give sufficient weight to factors that were relevant to M's best interests."

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."

Whittaker v Hancock & Ors (2018) EWHC 3478 (Ch)

LPA attorney as substituted personal representative

"The claimant has brought a claim under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to be appointed as substitute personal representative of the estate of John Parker in place of the second defendant, her mother, and for a caveat entered by the third defendant on 20 July 2016 to be removed. ... The third defendant is the deceased's daughter and opposes the claim. ... In a statement accompanying the Will, signed by the deceased and witnessed by a legal secretary the deceased explains that he has made no provision for the third defendant ... On 20 July 2016 the third defendant caused a caveat to be entered. She subsequently entered an appearance to the claimant's warning asserting that the 2003 Will may be invalid due to the deceased lacking testamentary capacity, being subject to undue influence and want of knowledge and approval. ... Mr Devereux-Cooke submits that I should make an order appointing the claimant as substitute personal representative for the second defendant. The claimant is the attorney for the second defendant, the LPA having been registered on 16 January 2014. The second defendant cannot consent to the claim as she lacks capacity. The first defendant does not oppose the claim. ... It is a general LPA in respect of property and financial affairs that is in wide terms enabling the claimant, as attorney, to make decisions about the second defendant's property and financial affairs. There are no conditions or restrictions specified in the instrument. ... It is also relevant that the second defendant is the sole beneficiary under the 2003 will. She is in a different position to a case where there are a number of beneficiaries. ... I accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis that the claimant has standing to bring this claim under section 50. If I am wrong in my analysis I consider that the position could be remedied by adding the second defendant as a claimant and appointing the current claimant as her litigation friend. I also accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis of rules 31 and 35 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 and would have been prepared to treat the claim as including this as an alternative legal route, had it been necessary. ... I consider that in order for the deceased's estate to be administered it is necessary to substitute the claimant as personal representative in place of the second defendant."

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