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Sector Focus


Legal


Sponsored by: Sydney Mitchell LLP


Woman ordered to undergo DNA test in inheritance dispute – Unique ruling


By Kam Majevadia Specialist in Dispute Resolution Sydney Mitchell LLP


In an unprecedented decision, a woman has been ordered by a judge to submit to DNA testing to prove whether she is the natural daughter of a man who died intestate. The woman’s mother was


married to the deceased when she was born and he was named as her father on her birth certificate. Prior to their divorce, they had brought her up as their child. Following his death, however, the other child of the family claimed that the woman was not his biological offspring and not entitled to inherit any part of his estate. The woman refused to


undergo DNA testing arguing that performing such procedure without her consent was an invasion of her bodily integrity and would breach her right to respect for her family life and privacy. In ordering her to undergo the test however, the judge noted evidence that she had told a number of persons that she was not the biological child of the deceased. The proposed saliva test would be quick, painless, risk free and much less of a physical invasion than a blood test. Despite acknowledging that his


decision was without precedent, the judge found that the court had inherent jurisdiction to direct that a party to proceedings give a saliva sample by way of mouth swab for the purpose of establishing paternity in a case where paternity is in issue. The judge noted that the


woman might be upset if the test proved that she was not the child of the deceased, but that was outweighed by the benefits of uncovering the truth. If science could be used as a means of resolving the litigation, then it should be.


For help or advice on this or other related contentious probate matter, please contact Kam Majevadia k.majevadia@sydneymitchell.co.uk


For general probate and private client matters, contact Tracy Creed t.creed@sydneymitchell.co.uk


Sydney Mitchell LLP is a Top Tier Legal 500 firm with offices in Birmingham, Sheldon, Shirley and facilities in Sutton Coldfield.


56 CHAMBERLINK May 2018


Inheritance tax pleas are being ignored, says law firm


Calls by siblings for changes to the law to help them avoid potentially crippling inheritance tax bills continue fall on deaf ears, according to an expert from law firm Clarke Willmott. Private client consultant Carol


Cummins says people who live together in long-term, financially inter-dependent partnerships with a sibling or other blood relations remain unable to claim exemption from inheritance tax on any gifts between them, either in lifetime or on death.


‘People could be left facing a potential tax bill running into hundreds of thousands of pounds’


She said: “With property values


rising dramatically in recent years, and many homes worth a lot more than the inheritance tax threshold, people could be left facing a potential tax bill running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.


Ms Cummins said it was essential


that people like Catherine protected themselves from losing out.


Options include making a will


and putting assets into joint names, using trusts in a will on the first death to reduce tax bills, and ensuring that an interest in any house sufficient to use the residence nil rate band was given directly to any children, grandchildren or their spouses. A draft bill to extend the Civil


Carol Cummins: Inheritance tax is a problem for siblings


“It is likely to mean the surviving


sibling has no choice but to put their home on the market at the same time as coming to terms with the loss of a cherished sibling.” Campaigners like Catherine Utley,


who lives in a jointly-owned property with her sister, wants to see family units like hers recognised in law.


Partnership Act 2004 to include siblings (aged over 30 who have lived together for a continuous period of 12 years), is currently awaiting its second reading in the House of Lords. However, it is unlikely to pass


into law as Parliament allocates limited time to such hearings. Joyce and Sybil Burden, who


looked after a succession of their elderly relations in their Wiltshire family home, took their case to the European Court of Human Rights. It acknowledged the


discrimination but ultimately ruled against them in 2008.


GDPR advice receives high praise


Small businesses have praised Thursfields Solicitors for the practical advice it gave on the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) at a hat-trick of recent seminars. The Midlands law firm held the


HR Exchange events simultaneously at Worcester Cricket Club, Halesowen Rugby Club and Thursfields’ Solihull office. Thursfields’ employment


solicitors Lisa Kemp, James Monk and Jade Linton each led one of the free breakfast seminars, advising firms on how to make themselves GDPR-ready. Sue Kenyon, HR manager at


Fitzgerald Contractors, the civil engineering specialists, said: “This was a really detailed insight into the GDPR regulations coming up, but was delivered in such a simple and useful way that helped me to understand. “Most importantly it’s stopped


me from panicking about the changes, as I now know exactly what to do to make sure we do the right thing.” Meanwhile, Peter Costello, finance


controller at Universal Document Solutions Ltd, said: “The event was very informative and Thursfields


Practical advice (from left): Jade Linton, Michelle O’Hara, Lisa Kemp and James Monk


delivered its usual professional, informative presentation. “It was good that the seminar


came from a practical rather than ‘too legal’ a perspective, which was a good, commonsense approach for all levels of HR.” And Kevan Gough, a chartered


insurance broker at Kevan Gough Consultants Ltd, said: “The event was very useful and informative, and I was particularly pleased at the insight this gave me into the HR element of the new GDPR regulations.” Michelle O’Hara, head of


employment at Thursfields and a


CIPD-qualified employment solicitor, said: “The events were all a great success and we were pleased to be able to contribute sound and practical advice on how to work within the important new GDPR regulations. “There are now only a few weeks


to go before the regulations are introduced in May, and so we found that local businesses were very enthusiastic to find out more. “Our employment team


explained how GDPR will affect HR processes, and outlined useful practical steps that companies should take to ensure compliance.”


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