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In Place of Strife

The Mediation Chambers

Civil and Commercial - Trusts, wills, probate and inheritance

Summary

Two sisters, as Trustees of a discretionary trust set up by their late mother, disagreed over the disposition of the main asset.

Background

The main asset of the Trust was a flat in London where their mother had lived. It had a value in its rather tired condition of just short of £1 million. The beneficiaries of the Trust were the descendants of the mother's parents and their spouses. Sister A had a husband and three children and several grandchildren, Sister B lived on her own and had no children.

There was huge distrust between the sisters and animosity between Sister B and her brother-in-law, who was present at the mediation but against the wishes of Sister B.

Sister A, a successful business woman, wanted to refurbish the flat and let it in a strong letting market; Sister B, who was struggling even to fund her legal representation, was more interested in receiving capital.

Outcome

In spite of Sister B's Counsel wanting the chance to speak directly to Sister A about the likely outcomes at trial, the mediator decided that it would be best for the parties not to meet in a plenary session, given break-down in relationships. Instead the mediator held private meeting alternately with each sister looking at options for settlement. Eventually a settlement agreement was signed under which Sister A paid Sister B 50% of the value of the flat (on the basis of a recent valuation which neither party thought accurate!) less a reserve held in escrow for the payment outstanding taxes and other outgoings.

Both sisters were mightily relieved to bring the long-running dispute to an end, to have certainty and to stop the costs running. Who knows, perhaps the relationship may now stand a chance of being repaired.

Mediator: Mark Jackson-Stops