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Calumny or not calumny – that is the question

Date:31 AUG 2020
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Chris Bryden, 4 King's Bench Walk
Chris Holten, Slee Blackwell LLP

Given the increasing number of challenges to wills due to the rise in asset values and the tendency towards multiple families, as well as the prospect of a litigant in financial remedies dying prior to the resolution of those proceedings, family practitioners are increasingly familiarising themselves with contentious probate and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Fraudulent calumny is a relatively little-used method of challenging the validity of a will. In essence, it involves a person exerting influence on a testator by the making of a false representation which they know is untrue or are reckless as to the truth of it to the testator about the character of another individual. It is a developing area of law and there is uncertainty as to whether the representation is intended to persuade the testator to change their minds with regard to a testamentary disposition. Whilst fraudulent calumny interplays and interacts with the better known doctrine of undue influence, it is a standalone ground for challenge to the terms of a will, though often pleaded in the alternative to undue influence given the overlap. 

The full article will be published in the September issue of Family Law

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