Answer- many cases can benefit from mediation, where the legal costs risk outweighing or dwarfing the amount in dispute, where there is litigation risk, or the consequences of bearing that risk could be highly damaging. Reputation preservation is also an issue. This was highlighted this week in two cases which hit the headlines:
A retired British Airways pilot has won an equal share of his parents’ estate after challenging a will that gave his sisters a larger share of the money.
Where there’s a will there’s a way!
Chris Burgess was originally due to inherit £300,000 of the estate of £1.5 million because the will stipulated that his two sisters had a greater need. However, after the siblings’ father Jim Burgess, a judge, died in 2012, their mother, Freda, who died in 2016, changed her will to divide everything equally between them. That decision led to a court battle between Mr Burgess and his sisters. Mr Burgess won his case which means that his sisters or the estate May be seriously out of pocket. Who pays the costs is yet to be decided, but if the one of the parties offered mediation and it was refused, this could have costs implications as the Courts penalise parties who refuse to mediate.
Arthur Scargill, the former president of the National Union of Mineworkers, has been branded an unreliable witness in a ruling that could land him with a bill for £300,000.
Judge Stephen Eyre, QC, giving judgment in a battle that has lasted for three decades over the repayment of a loan to the union, said: “There is a marked contrast between Mr Scargill’s evidence now and the picture which appears from his past words and actions.” He said that Mr Scargill’s account of events was “so contrary to what I conclude was intrinsically probable as to be incapable of belief”.
Oh dear! So not only did Mr Scargill lose his case, his reputation for being reliable has been undermined. The dispute has been going on for 30 years so one can only imagine the massive costs incurred. Again, the Court will have to decide who should pay these costs and whether they acted reasonably.
If you are interested in resolving a dispute get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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