Until last year, what powers the Courts had to order DNA testing in a dispute which hinged entirely upon whether the deceased was the parent of the Claimant or not was entirely unclear. Under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969 the Courts can order DNA testing where parentage is an issue in proceedings but this only applies whilst the person to be tested is still alive.
DNA testing in inheritance disputes
In Nield-Moir v Freeman  EWHC 299 Ch, HHJ Matthews held that the Courts’ inherent jurisdiction was wide enough to order DNA testing to take place with a view to establishing whether the deceased was a parent of a Claimant. Whilst there is an obvious advantage to scientific testing in a case where parentage is in issue, until last year other means of evidence were generally relied upon instead such as a presumption of parentage where a child is born in the course of a marriage.
The opening up of the ability to rely upon DNA evidence is, therefore, a welcome development.
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