E&W court sets Will aside in fight over predatory marriage

May 21, 2024 3:18 pm Published by

The Central London County Court has given the judgement in the alleged predatory marriage case of Langley v Qin. This is one of the earliest cases of undue influence, after the England and Wales Court made its call In Rea v Rea (2024 EWCA Cib 169)

Robert Harrington (the deceased), at the age of 93 age and a widower, married his 54 years old carer Guixiang Qin (the defendant). He then made a new will in favour of his new wife, excluding his daughter Jill Langley (the claimant). Jill challenged the will based on lack of knowledge, lack of testamentary capacity, and undue influence.

The court set aside the will for various reasons. Following the England and Wales High Court’s decision in Clitheroe v Bond (2021 EWHC 1102 Ch), it agreed with a doctor’s testimony that the deceased suffered from paranoid delusional disorder. This disorder caused him to believe several false things, such as being estranged from the claimant for years, accusing her of stealing his horses, and thinking he held a high rank in the army.

The court couldn’t guarantee that the deceased had read the draft will given to him for his approval and neither rely on attendance notes. The defendant controlled the deceased’s finances, therefore, went looking for solicitors and will writers that were willing to prepare a will for the deceased.

It also discovered a ‘significant amount of wrongdoing’ in how the defendant took over £230,000 from the deceased’s bank accounts before and after his death. Of particular concern was that she didn’t report these transactions to HMRC as lifetime transfers when she sought probate.

The claimant was granted indemnity costs against the defendant; however, the court couldn’t annul the marriage after the deceased’s passing. According to English intestacy law, the defendant is now set to inherit a fixed net sum of £270,000 and half of the remaining estate.

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This post was written by Marc White