Ex-Partner Makes Unique Bid for a Slice of Entrepreneur's Estate

In a unique case, a woman who claims that her ex-civil partner duped her into accepting a derisory financial settlement following the end of their relationship has won the right to a full hearing of her bid for a substantial slice of her former partner’s estate.

The woman claims that, when their 18-year relationship came to an end, she agreed to accept the £162,000 settlement in the mistaken belief that her partner, who has since died, was only worth about £750,000. The deceased was a successful entrepreneur and the woman claims that her assets were, at the time of the settlement, in fact worth around £6 million. She died intestate, with the result that her estate passed to her elderly mother.

The woman launched proceedings with a view to setting aside the settlement on grounds of material non-disclosure and making a claim on the deceased’s estate. A judge, however, found that the woman had entered into the settlement voluntarily and dismissed her claim on the basis that it was unmeritorious and doomed to fail.

In upholding the woman’s challenge to that ruling, the Court of Appeal found that the judge had erred in effectively striking out her claim on a summary basis. Her arguments merited a full hearing and the Court directed that that should take place before a High Court judge. The Court urged the parties to seek a final settlement of the dispute.