Dispute resolution in will contest claims and Inheritance Act claims

Dispute resolution – what does it actually mean? Most potential claimants consider it must mean (for them) a successful day in court. Lawyers of course are much more circumspect. They know that once a case has reached a Judge, to a degree the case is beyond their control or put it another way it is out of control! Successful dispute resolution in will dispute claims and/or Inheritance Act claims is a combination of pre litigation actions including early disclosure and formation of the claim by a carefully worded claim letter and early “alternative dispute resolution”. Yes this can involve the gathering of evidence and tetchy correspondence and sometimes this can be cathartic for both sides. However a careful evaluation of the costs and risks of any claim should really be sufficient to persuade all but the most foolhardy of litigators that a settlement and yes “certainty” is the best course is almost all cases.

What form should alternative dispute resolution take. Each case is different but I find “mediation” to be the most successful. A mediator of facilitator shuttles between the parties, cajoling, prodding and questioning. Done correctly it is highly effective. Other methods can include a simple discussion over the telephone or round a table although the latter within the context of the heat generated in will contest cases can in my experience inflame the arguments.

Another method is “early neutral evaluation” by a recognised expert in the will or inheritance dispute field – usually a Barrister. I regret that I have had a healthy experience of this in these cases but I am willing to be persuaded and the right case may very well come along in the future.