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There’s nothing in this world can make me joy.

William Shakespeare

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child!
(Lear, Act 1 Scene 4)

Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.

(Fool, Act, 1 Scene 5)

Fresh from the press comes another story of litigation gone mad causing an inter generational rift, which would not be out of place in a Shakespeare tragedy.

The family rift stems from earlier litigation which started when David and Glenda Joy’s daughter Lucy lost a dispute with her father’s siblings over an inheritance of £200,000 from her grandmother.

Following that case, which Lucy settled, perhaps through mediation, she agreed to pay £90,000 to her father’s sibling

David Joy’s two siblings had challenged the will, claiming Lucy had unfairly influenced her grandmother, who had dementia. Unable to settle the matter, David agreed to help Lucy in a legal battle which eventually cost the couple £73,650 in legal fees.

Unable to pay, as a single parent, she turned to her parents, they say for a loan of £90,000. They then brought proceedings against her, when she refused to pay her back, which she won, alleging that the advance was a gift:  That old chestnut!

Speaking following the ruling, the couple, both retired British Airways workers, said they mortgaged their home to lend Lucy the money.

‘It wasn’t meant to go this way,’ said Mr Joy, who suffered a nervous breakdown in the course of the dispute. ‘You trust your children, don’t you? Why would you get them to write an IOU? But it’s cost us everything.

The couple covered the settlement and say Lucy suggested she could repay them by signing her grandmother’s house over to Glenda, then paying rent until the loan was repaid and the house returned to her – something she denied in court.

The couple insist they took out a mortgage on their three-bedroom home in Bude, Cornwall, only after making a verbal agreement. But a month after the money was paid, they asked Lucy when she would sign the house over. ‘She turned,’ said Glenda. ‘She said, “You’re trying to steal my baby’s inheritance, screw the pair of you”, loaded up her car and drove off.

‘Lucy’s whole attitude throughout was, “Dad can afford it”,’ David continued. ‘She had no qualms about letting me pay the lawyer’s fees.’

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.
William Shakespeare

‘Hamlet’ (1601) act 4, sc. 5, l. [78]”

Mr Joy said his daughter thought nothing of privately funding IVF to have her son as a single parent while he and Mrs Joy were ‘drowning’ in legal bills.

‘When you love your children you can’t envisage things would turn sour.’

Last year the Joys decided to take Lucy to court. But  they lost their case.

Mrs Joy said: ‘I still have bad nights over the injustice of it all – and our stupidity. I should have said, “sign something”.’

David added: ‘Lucy has got what she deserved. But she didn’t deserve to do it at our expense. Fighting over a £200,000 house has cost us everything.’

Lessons to learn:

1. Never fund someone else’s litigation as an amateur – there are companies specialising in doing this who assess the risk.

2. Mediate early

3. Consider whether the lawyers have questions to answer. What advice were the Joys given as to prospects of success on both cases they were paying for?

4. Always record an agreement over money in writing in some way, even with family members.

5. If a legal battle gets out of control, come to ProMediate to mediate.

“Each present joy or sorrow seems the chief.”

William Shakespeare