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|James v James (2018) EWHC 43 (Ch)||Banks v Goodfellow test for testamentary capacity survives MCA||"There is a preliminary question of law as to the test to be applied for testamentary capacity in a case like this, where the testator has made a will, died, and then the question of capacity has arisen. The traditional test for such a case is that laid down in Banks v Goodfellow (1870) LR 5 QB 549, 565, per Cockburn CJ: 'It is essential … that a testator shall understand the nature of his act and its effects; shall understand the extent of the property of which he is disposing; shall be able to comprehend and appreciate the claims to which he ought to give effect, and, with a view to the latter object, that no disorder of the mind shall poison his affections, avert his sense of right, or prevent the exercise of his natural faculties, that no insane delusion shall influence his will in disposing of his property and bring about a disposal of it which, if his mind had been sound, would not have been made.' ... More recently the Mental Capacity Act 2005 has made fresh provision for the law of mental capacity in certain situations. What is unfortunately not made express in that legislation is the extent to which this fresh provision affects the test for capacity to make a will when that question is being judged retrospectively (typically, though not necessarily, post mortem). ... The general rule of precedent, as applied in the High Court, is that that court is not strictly bound by decisions of co-ordinate jurisdiction, but will follow them as a matter of comity unless convinced they are wrong ... As it happens, I think the decision in Walker v Badmin  EWHC 71 (Ch)Not on Bailii! [that the test in Banks v Goodfellow not only had survived the enactment of the 2005 Act, but that it, rather than anything in the Act, was still the sole test of capacity for judging will-making capacity in retrospect] is right, and for the reasons given by the deputy judge. ... Whilst it is a complication to have two tests for mental capacity in making wills, one prospective and the other retrospective, it is a complication created by the decision of Parliament to legislate as it has, a decision that the courts must respect."|
|Parsonage v Parsonage (2019) EWHC 2362 (Ch)||Validity of will||" The validity of the 2011 Will is challenged by D1 on the grounds that BP lacked capacity (1) to know and understand the nature and effect of the 2011 Will, (2) to know and understand the size of her estate, and/or (3) to know and appreciate the claims to which she ought to give effect. The underlying factual basis of the challenge is the severity or extent of BP's dementia and the circumstances in which the 2011 Will was prepared and executed."|
|R (Maguire) v HM's Senior Coroner for Blackpool and Fylde (2019) EWHC 1232 (Admin)||Inquest and DOLS||"First, the claimant contends that the defendant erred in law by determining at the end of the evidence that article 2 no longer applied under Parkinson, thereby prejudging a matter that should have been left to the jury. Secondly, the Coroner erred in law by determining that the jury should not be directed to consider whether neglect should form part of their conclusion. ... That the case law has extended the positive duty beyond the criminal justice context in Osman is not in doubt. The reach of the duty, beyond what Lord Dyson called the "paradigm example" of detention, is less easy to define. We have reached the conclusion, however, that the touchstone for state responsibility has remained constant: it is whether the circumstances of the case are such as to call a state to account: Rabone, para 19, citing Powell. In the absence of either systemic dysfunction arising from a regulatory failure or a relevant assumption of responsibility in a particular case, the state will not be held accountable under article 2. ... We agree that a person who lacks capacity to make certain decisions about his or her best interests - and who is therefore subject to DOLS under the 2005 Act - does not automatically fall to be treated in the same way as Lord Dyson's paradigm example. In our judgment, each case will turn on its facts. ... [The Coroner] properly directed himself as to the appropriate test to apply to the issue of neglect and having done so declined to leave the issue to the jury."|
|R (Maughan) v Her Majesty's Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire (2019) EWCA Civ 809||Suicide burden of proof at inquests||"This appeal involves questions of importance concerning the law and practice of coroners' inquests where an issue is raised as to whether the deceased died by suicide. The questions can be formulated as follows: (1) Is the standard of proof to be applied the criminal standard (satisfied so as to be sure) or the civil standard (satisfied that it is more probable than not) in deciding whether the deceased deliberately took his own life intending to kill himself? (2) Does the answer depend on whether the determination is expressed by way of short-form conclusion or by way of narrative conclusion? Those are the questions falling for decision in this case; but to an extent they have also required some consideration of the position with regard to unlawful killing. ... I conclude that, in cases of suicide, the standard of proof to be applied throughout at inquests, and including both short-form conclusions and narrative conclusions, is the civil standard of proof."|
|R (Silvera) v HM Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire (2017) EWHC 2499 (Admin)||JR of decision not to resume inquest||"In this claim for judicial review Muhammad Silvera challenges the decision of the Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire not to resume the inquest into the death of his mother, Ms Vittoria Baker. It is submitted that the decision of the Senior Coroner not to resume the inquest and thereby to hold a full inquest into this death was unlawful. It is submitted that the Senior Coroner breached the investigative duty under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and was irrational and in breach of the duty at common law to fully investigate this death. ... The Senior Coroner refers in his letter of February 2016 to the 'Crown Court Trial' together with the two reports as being sufficient to satisfy Article 2 of the Convention. There was, in fact, no Crown Court trial. At an early hearing an acceptable plea was tendered and 'K' was made the subject of a hospital order. The two other investigations comprised an internal NHS Trust investigation that was carried out in private and the DHR was expressed to be private and confidential. ... In all the circumstances, this claim for judicial review should be allowed."|
|Todd v Parsons (2019) EWHC 3366 (Ch)||Testamentary capacity||"The claim was opposed by the third defendant, challenging that will on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval and undue influence. ... The traditional test for capacity is that laid down in Banks v Goodfellow (1870) LR 5 QB 549 ... In James v James  WTLR 1313, I held that the traditional test still applied, and had not been replaced by that contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Neither party argued before me that the test should now be that contained in the 2005 Act, although the third defendant reserved the right to argue otherwise on appeal. ... In my judgment the 2008 will is valid."|
|Whittaker v Hancock & Ors (2018) EWHC 3478 (Ch)||LPA attorney as substituted personal representative||"The claimant has brought a claim under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 to be appointed as substitute personal representative of the estate of John Parker in place of the second defendant, her mother, and for a caveat entered by the third defendant on 20 July 2016 to be removed. ... The third defendant is the deceased's daughter and opposes the claim. ... In a statement accompanying the Will, signed by the deceased and witnessed by a legal secretary the deceased explains that he has made no provision for the third defendant ... On 20 July 2016 the third defendant caused a caveat to be entered. She subsequently entered an appearance to the claimant's warning asserting that the 2003 Will may be invalid due to the deceased lacking testamentary capacity, being subject to undue influence and want of knowledge and approval. ... Mr Devereux-Cooke submits that I should make an order appointing the claimant as substitute personal representative for the second defendant. The claimant is the attorney for the second defendant, the LPA having been registered on 16 January 2014. The second defendant cannot consent to the claim as she lacks capacity. The first defendant does not oppose the claim. ... It is a general LPA in respect of property and financial affairs that is in wide terms enabling the claimant, as attorney, to make decisions about the second defendant's property and financial affairs. There are no conditions or restrictions specified in the instrument. ... It is also relevant that the second defendant is the sole beneficiary under the 2003 will. She is in a different position to a case where there are a number of beneficiaries. ... I accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis that the claimant has standing to bring this claim under section 50. If I am wrong in my analysis I consider that the position could be remedied by adding the second defendant as a claimant and appointing the current claimant as her litigation friend. I also accept Mr Devereux-Cooke's analysis of rules 31 and 35 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 and would have been prepared to treat the claim as including this as an alternative legal route, had it been necessary. ... I consider that in order for the deceased's estate to be administered it is necessary to substitute the claimant as personal representative in place of the second defendant."|