Civil Disputes arise in a variety of formats with different legal issues arising depending on the nature of the dispute. If an agreement is recorded in writing it should set out clearly the obligations of each party.

If one party does not comply with the agreed terms, they are in breach of contract. Agreements may be made orally and with the exception of agreements made in respect of sale / purchase land (which must be in writing), are equally enforceable.

However, unless recorded in writing the terms agreed between the parties are more open to interpretation and as a consequence may be less easily enforceable.

Contract disputes may require the Court to order one party to fulfil his/her obligations (specific performance) or award the other party damages when they have acted upon a promise to their detriment and incurred financial loss (Promissory Estoppel).

Contracts can be written or parol (oral). If one party fails in its obligations they are in breach of contract disputes.

Contract dispute proceedings can be brought in the County and / or High Court depending on the value of the claim and remedies sought. If one party is seeking to enforce the terms of the contract, remedies may be specific performance or compensation in lieu.

If the party in breach causes financial loss, the party alleging breach of contract will seek damages to compensate. Court fees, interest and legal fees will be recovered by the successful party in addition.

If a person dies leaving a will which does not provide adequate financial provision for certain dependants then providing requirements of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 as amended are fulfilled those person may bring a claim for financial provision to be made to them out of the deceased’s estate.

This claim has to be brought within six months of the Grant of Probate and will override the provisions in the deceased’s will.

If a person dies intestate then the intestacy rules make provision for a certain class of family member to apply to take out letters of administration which will enable the deceased’s estate to be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

A common form of property dispute are boundary disputes between neighbours.

These can often be determined by reference to the title deeds but in some cases rights can be acquired over a neighbour’s land by usage (rights of prescription). In certain cases, ownership of land can be acquired by possession (adverse possession) provided that the Possessor has used the land as their own without consent for a period of time.

In order to regulate this type of ownership an application has to be made to HM Land Registry who will grant a possessory title if successful. This title can later be upgraded to an absolute title. At Judkins Solicitors we also advise on defending possession proceedings brought against individuals by Banks and Building Societies either in a private residential mortgage context or where a matrimonial home has been mortgaged as security for business debts.

We have also acted for clients in obtaining possession of a property and / or for a declaration of an interest in property pursuant to the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (“TOLATA”).

Disputes over wills frequently occur when a family member / beneficiary is concerned that the deceased’s will does not accurately present the deceased’s true wishes.

In some circumstances, this might be just down to bad will drafting but other issues may be concerning the deceased’s mental capacity at the time of making their will (testamentary capacity) or that they were unduly influenced by other beneficiaries in the will (undue influence).

The test for testamentary capacity is well established in the case of Banks -v- Goodfellow whereas evidence of undue influence is often more difficult to determine. It is often a requirement that the deceased’s medical records are obtained as it may be necessary to request a retrospective report on the deceased’s likely testamentary capacity at the time of writing the will.

Contact Judkins

Practical Wisdom. Caring Advice. Results.

For any of the issues we cover please call us for an informal chat and discover how simply talking to a professional lawyer can be extremely beneficial in getting you on the right path
Contact Judkins