Lambert (plaintiff) v Lyons

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr Justice Roderick Murphy
Judgment Date26 January 2010
Neutral Citation[2010] IEHC 29
CourtHigh Court
Date26 January 2010

[2010] IEHC 29

THE HIGH COURT

[No. 2007 P/2007]
Lambert v Lyons & Ors
IN THE MATTER OF CHARLES GORDON LAMBERT
BETWEEN/
MARK LAMBERT AND JUNE LAMBERT
PLAINTIFFS

AND

ANTHONY LYONS, OLIVE BEAUMONT AND CATHERINE MARSHALL
DEFENDANTS

RSC O.19 r 6

SUCCESSION ACT 1965

POWERS OF ATTORNEY ACT 1996 S9

KEATING ON PROBATE 3ED 2007 11-20

KEATING ON PROBATE 3ED 2007 11-24

CAROLL v CAROLL 1999 4 IR 241

CRAIG v LAMOUREX 1920 AC 349

KAVANAGH, HEALY v MACGILLICUDDY & LYONS 1978 ILRM 175

RSC O.19 r 6(1)

RSC O.19 r 6(3)

KAVANAGH, WINTLE v NYE IN RE 1959 1 WLR 284

KAVANAGH & ELLIOTT, IN RE v STAMP 2008 3 IR 387 2008 2 ILRM 283

POTTER v POTTER 2003 NI UNREP GILLEN 5.2.2003

HEALY v LYONS 1978 WJSC-HC 2724

BRADY SUCCESSION LAW IN IRELAND 2ED BUTTERWORTHS 1995

KEANE EQUITY & LAW OF TRUST IN REPUBLIC OF IRELAND BUTTERWORTHS 1988 338

THEOBOLD WILLS SWEET & MAXWELL 16 ED 2001 41 PAR 3-27-29

SHERRIN, WILLIAMS ON WILLS 8ED BUTTERWORTHS 2002 57FF

PARFITT v LAWLESS 1872 LR 2 P & D 462

DELANY EQUITY & LAW OF TRUSTS 4ED 2007 CH 16

COSTELLOE ENDURING PROBLEM OF POWERS OF ATTORNEY 1998 3(2) CPLJ 35

CAROLL v CAROLL 2000 1 ILRM 210

GREALISH v MURPHY 1946 IR 35

KEATING v KEATING UNREP LAFFOY 24.8.2009 2009 IEHC 405

DELANEY EQUITY & LAW OF TRUST 4ED 2007 482

HEGARTY v KING 1880 5 LR IR 249

PROBATE

Wills

Codicil -Challenge to Will - Testamentary capacity - Undue influence -Duress - Presumption of undue influence - Allegation of undue influence against carer with enduring power of attorney - Testator suffering from Parkinsons Disease - Whether testator had been unduly influenced - Whether testator had been under duress in drafting Will - Whether relationship gave rise to presumption of undue influence -Whether presumption of undue influence rebutted - Whether cogent evidence that power had been exercised in obtaining Will and codicil -Carroll v Carroll [1999] 4 IR 241 applied - Craig v Lamoureux [1920] AC 349, Re Kavanagh; Healy v MacGillicuddy [1978] ILRM 175, Wintle v Nye [1959] 1 WLR 284, Elliott v Stamp [2008] IESC 10 [2008] 3 IR 387, Potter v Potter [2003] NI (Unrep, Gillen J, 5/2/2003), Allcard v. Skinner (1887) 36 Ch. D. 145, Healy v Lyons (Unrep, Costello J, 24/10/1978), Parfitt v Lawless (1872) LR 2 P&D 462, Grealish v. Murphy [1946] I.R. 35, Keating v Keating [2009] IEHC 405 (Unrep, Laffoy J,24/8/2009) and Hegarty v King 5 LR Ir 249 considered - Rules of the Superior Courts 1986 (SI 15/1986), O 19, r 6 - Relief refused, Will and Codicil admitted to probate (2007/3007P - Murphy J - 26/1/2010) [2010] IEHC 29

Lambert v Lyons

Facts: The deceased had died in 2005 single, aged 86 years and without issue. His last will dated to 2003 and a codicil was made in 2004. He had made 31 Wills and codicils generally and all were made with legal advice. The realization of the assets of a home and art collection exceeded the sum of the schedule of the assets prepared by him some time before making the last Will and testament. The defendant was the principal beneficiary of the plaintiff and his legacy has increased with each successive Will. A power of attorney had been given to him. The plaintiffs pleaded that the defendant had unduly influenced the plaintiff by sapping him of his free will amounting to duress and undue influence. The issue arose as to whether the presumption of undue influence of the defendant over the will of the plaintiff had been rebutted and whether the testamentary document and codicil to the Will would be admitted to probate.

Held by Murphy J. that the defendant did not exercise undue influence over the plaintiff and that the testamentary document and codicil of the Will were to be admitted to probate. Extensive evidence was heard by the Court to the effect that the testator knew and approved of the contents of his Will. He initiated the request to change the Will and gave instructions. The increase in the value of his home had no relevance to the claim, though it may have been a factor in the commencement of the proceedings. The central concern of the testator had been the adequacy of the assets to meet the legacies in the Will. He had acted as an independent person, his actions were well understood and were based upon full information being provided to him. The defendant was not involved in the drafting of the Will, was not present at its execution and was not aware of the contents thereof. The advising solicitors were conscious of the possibility of duress and undue influence.

Reporter: E .F.

1

Mr Justice Roderick Murphy delivered the 26th day of January, 2010.

1. Overview
2

The deceased, Charles Gordon Lambert (Mr. Lambert) was born on 9 th April, 1918, qualified as a chartered accountant and had a distinguished career as managing director and chairman of W. & R. Jacob plc, a patron of the arts and a senator in Seanad Éireann.

3

He died on the 27 th January, 2005 aged 86 years of age, single and without issue.

4

By his Will dated 21 st August, 2003, and codicil made on 21 st May, 2004, he appointed the defendants as his executors and trustees. He left certain pecuniary legacies to his nephews and to his brother and further legacies to his nephews including the first named plaintiff and nieces and goddaughter, the second named plaintiff. A pecuniary legacy was also left to both Olive Beaumont and Catherine Marshall, the second and third named defendants. A pecuniary legacy was left to the Gordon Lambert Charitable Trust at the Irish Museum of Modern Art of which Catherine Marshall was and remains as Curator.

5

One quarter of the residue was left to certain family members and a further quarter to other family members with a cap of €100,000 per beneficiary.

6

Three eighths was left to Mr. Anthony Lyons, the first named defendant (Mr. Lyons), and one eighth to Catherine Marshall, the third named defendant (Ms. Marshall).

7

The realisation of the assets, in particular, the value of Mr. Lambert's residence exceeded the sum of the schedule of assets prepared by him some time before making his last Will and testament.

8

The effect of the increased valuation was to benefit the residuary legatees whose legacy was not capped, that is to say, the first and third named defendants, Mr. Lyons and Ms. Marshall.

9

Mr. Lambert had been ill for some years with Parkinson's disease before he died. On 15 th March, 2007, the Will was impounded on the application of the plaintiffs herein.

10

There is a provision in the Will disinheriting those who challenged the Will.

11

Mr. Lambert had executed an enduring power of attorney on 17 th November, 1997, at a time he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease which was some seven years before his death at age 86.

12

The enduring power of attorney was duly registered on 12 th January, 2003, two years before he died. His attorney was Mr. Lyons.

13

The Last Will and Testament was preceded by 30 previous Wills and codicils, executed between 8 th June, 1979 to 21 st May, 2004 all of which were drawn up by and on the advice of the testator's solicitors McCann Fitzgerald. The successive drafts reflected, in part, changes in the Finance Acts and, in particular, in the thresholds for Capital Acquisition Tax.

14

Mr. Lyons was first included as a beneficiary under the sixth Will of 22 nd October, 1985, in the sum of £1,000 which increased gradually to £5,000 in three successive Wills from 1993 to 1994. The sum increased from £12,000 to £25,000 between 1996 and 1997. In 1997, Mr. Lyons was also included as entitled to the income on £100,000 from the residue of the estate.

15

By the Will of 7 th April, 1999, the pecuniary legacy had increased marginally to £26,000 and the sum of £100,000 from the residuary.

16

By the Will of 14 th April, 2002, Mr. Lyons became entitled to a pecuniary legacy of €200,000 plus.

17

The residue in the Will of 21 st August, 2003, with some changes to the membership of the class already referred to, benefited two residuary classes, capped at €100,000 for each member of that class. Three-eighths and one eighth of the remainder of the residue benefited Mr. Lyons and Ms. Marshall respectively.

18

The balance of the residue in previous Wills from 2000 to 2002 had benefited a named class of residuary legatees.

19

In the third last Will of 9 th August, 2001, 10% of the balance benefited the Parkinson's Association of Ireland, 5% benefited the Charles Gordon Lambert Trust and the remaining 85% benefited the named class of residuary legatees.

20

The Wills were drafted by Patricia Rickard-Clarke and after Ms. Rickard-Clarke became a Law Reform Commissioner by Susan O'Connell. Each was drawn up following detailed attendances on Mr. Lambert.

21

The latter attendances on Mr. Lambert by Patricia Richard-Clarke and Susan O'Connell and Cormac Brennan of McCann Fitzgerald adverted to concerns that the Will might be challenged.

22

A questionnaire drafted by Mr. Lambert on 2 nd April, 2003 and addressed to his family, inter alia, asked whether Mr. Lambert was not allowed to decide his future.

23

Correspondence between Mr. Lambert and his brother, Hamilton Lambert, known to his family as Ham, and between Mr. Lambert and June Lambert, the second named plaintiff, from April, 2002, indicate concerns regarding Mr. Lambert's relationship with his family. Hamilton Lambert though older, died after Mr. Lambert and before these proceedings commenced.

24

A schedule of his assets on 1 st August, 2003, included a valuation of his dwelling house in the sum of €680,000. His solicitor, Susan O'Connell, though not a valuer, believed it to be worth €1 million. After death two valuations for probate were obtained for €2 million and €2.75 million. The reserve for auction in April 2006 was €3 million. When it was sold in April 2006 it realised €4.5 million when it was purchased by a developer.

2....

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