We were instructed by the two daughters of the deceased. They were the registered proprietors of a property which was previously registered in the sole name of the deceased. They had allowed their brother to occupy the property rent free for a number of years. The brother is severely physically disabled following a serious car accident and had been so for a number of years. Without the consent of the clients, the brother had vacated the property and had arranged a number of lettings of the property to a lady who had been awarded a large sum of money in consequence of a medical negligence claim concerning her child. This lady arranged a “rappers party” which was attended by hundreds of people who came down from London to a small Surrey village where the property was situated. During the course of the party guns were drawn: one party member was shot dead and others injured. One of our clients was a local councillor and was descended upon by the national press.
The clients approached us with a view to recovering possession of the property. It soon became apparent there was a very complex historical factual background to the devolution of the property and it became clear that the brother might well claim various claims of occupation / life interest / beneficial interest in the property.
We embarked on a detailed fact gathering exercise and accumulated from various sources, a large quantity of documentation. A pre action protocol letter of claim was sent to the brother seeking an acknowledgement from him that the client owned the entire beneficial interest in the property. The letter was however ignored.
Counsel, who had been engaged to advise on the complex legal issues arising, settled proceedings for issue in the Chancery Division, seeking a declaration that the clients were entitled to the entire beneficial interest in the property. The brother, who was acting as a litigant in person, but using a direct access Counsel, put a comprehensive Witness Statement in reply. At the first Case Management Conference, the matter was transferred to Part 7 proceedings and the parties were ordered to formally plead their respective cases. We applied appropriate cost budgeting to the case. The matter now comes before the Court on a CCMC.
It is our intention, following exchange of further evidence and full disclosure, to attempt to get the brother to refer the matter to mediation. In the case that mediation fails, the matter will proceed to a full four day trial in the Chancery Division.