Within the practice of contentious probate, if we have not already been requested to do so, there will be a point whereby as a litigator in this area we will be asked to respond to a request in accordance with the established case law of Larke v Nugus.
For those unfamiliar with what a Larke v Nugus request, it is a request for information from a Will drafter in respect of the circumstances under which the Will was made, how instructions were taken and how the Will was executed. As a mean of good practice, the whole Will file is usually disclosed too. The general guidance is that early disclosure of such should be made to prevent the costs associated with litigation.
However, in practice it is not so simple. Solicitors are often reluctant to deal with such requests quickly as many of them believe that the time is a non-chargeable item. The reality is that the costs of them preparing such a response are likely to be modest but for a potential claimant it could mean the difference between a case that can or cannot be pursued.
The Law Society has set out guidance on such requests that will hopefully give practitioners some degree of certainty and may speed requests up. Guidance set out in their disputed Wills practice note on 11 December 2018 that the requesting party can be charged for the time taken to prepare the request. Any charges should be reasonable and in accordance with your duty to maintain trust and act fairly. Additionally, a reasonable cost may be charged for preparing the statement and any associated copying charges.
By implementing such measures, the Law Society have assisted in ensuring that any request made to provide information, which could potentially avoid costly litigation will be complied with, in a reasonable time frame. Furthermore the litigator tasked with such request will not be tempted to push it to the back of the queue.
How Nelsons can help
For advice on any queries relating to the topics discussed in this article, please contact Kiren or another member of our Dispute Resolution team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.