£100 million will fails for want of knowledge and approval; Reeves v Drew and ors [2022] EWHC (Ch)


Mr Justice Michael Green has now handed down judgment in this dispute over the will of the late Kevin Reeves, deceased whose estate has been valued at around £100 million.

Following a 3-week trial and the hearing of evidence from over fifty witness, Mr Justice Green has pronounced against the Deceased’s last will of 2014 in favour of an earlier will.  Finding that the claimant and the principal beneficiary of the later will, had “pulled the wool” over her father’s eyes and exploited his poor literacy, the Judge held that the deceased had not understood the terms of the 2014 will at the date on which he signed it and had not intended to radically altered his testamentary dispositions.

Rejecting much of the evidence of the three solicitors who had been involved in the preparation and execution of the will, Mr Justice Green found that the 2014 will had not been read through to the deceased and that the solicitor who drafted it had failed to disclose the true extent of his relationship with the Claimant and had lied on a number of occasions. The 205 page judgment provides an excellent example of how the courts should approach solicitor’s attendance notes for the purposes of the dicta in NatWest Markets plc v Bilta [2021] EWCA Civ 680, where the provenance of these notes is challenged and where their contents is at odds with known facts or accepted documents.

Clifford Darton QC, instructed by Mike Karia of the London Litigation Partnership acted for the deceased’s grandson, Ryan, who now stands to take 10% of the estate under the earlier will.  The judgment quotes extensively from Clifford’s cross-examination of the solicitors who witnessed the execution of the 2014 Will and whose evidence was largely disbelieved by the Judge.

George Woodhead appeared for Ryan at some of the earlier interim hearings and in related proceedings.

The trial was widely reported in most of the national papers.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.