Applications for Court approval
In a dispute where any of the parties is a child or is under a mental disability it is necessary for the court's approval to be obtained to conclude a binding settlement agreement.
Part 21.10 of the Civil Procedure Rules sets out the detailed requirements. This rule provides that where a claim by, on behalf of or against a minor (i.e. anyone under 18) or a protected party (ie someone who lacks capacity to conduct the proceedings) has been compromised prior to the issue of court proceedings, the approval of the court must be sought by application under the Civil Procedure Rules Part 8 procedure. If proceedings are ongoing already the approval must be sought by application notice in those proceedings.
There are often child beneficiaries in probate disputes so applications under CPR 21.10 are common in this area. For example minor beneficiaries will often be named as defendants in claim against the estate. They are also often claimants under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (hyperlink to Inheritance Act claims page) where the will or intestacy rules have not sufficiently provided for them.
Parties must comply with the requirements of Part 21.10 to ensure that the agreement terms are binding. If they do not do so the problem may not be immediately apparent but it may be possible, years after the event, for a then adult (and disgruntled!) beneficiary to revisit the terms agreed. Understandably, the consequences of unravelling possibly many years of transactions can be significant.
Ashfords Disputed Wills, Trusts and Estates Team has extensive experience dealing with applications under CPR 21.10. If you would like further advice or assistance with such an application, or indeed on any will, inheritance or trust dispute, please contact our Disputed Wills, Trusts and Estates Team by telephone on +44 (0)1884 203 018 or FREEPHONE 0800 0931336, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.