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08 August 2019
The eagerly awaited Court of Appeal judgment in Cowan v Foreman ( EWCA Civ 1336) was handed down on 30 July 2019, confirming that Cowan can make a claim out of time for reasonable provision from her husband's estate (for further details please see "Court U-turn in approach to 'out of time' inheritance act claims").
The deadline for making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is usually six months from the date of the grant of representation, although the court can permit applications to be made out of time. In this case, the parties were engaging in pre-action correspondence and had agreed to extend the deadline. The first-instance judge was willing to ignore the parties' own agreement to extend the time and refused Cowan permission to bring her claim.
It will be a relief for potential claimants to know that the Court of Appeal has overturned this decision, noting in particular that:
The Court of Appeal disagreed that to allow this claim would amount to forced spousal heirship, as each case always depends on its own facts and the specific application of the factors set out in the inheritance act.
This latest judgment in Cowan removes the previous discrepancy between it and Bhustate v Patel ( EWHC 2362 (Ch)), in which a widow was given permission to bring an inheritance act claim almost 27 years after the deadline. It confirms that a delay need not be fatal, especially if:
For more information on this topic please contact Hannah Mantle, Roberta Harvey or Emily Exton at Forsters LLP by telephone (+44 20 7863 8333) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Forsters LLP website can be accessed at www.forsters.co.uk.
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