Standstill Agreement Inheritance Act

Asplin LJ and King LJ discussed the issue of status quo agreements, Asplin LJ commented on Mostyn J`s approach as follows: with respect to status quo agreements, Mostyn J correctly concluded that Section 4 of the Estates Act does not give the parties the power to extend the period and that this is the case of the Court of Justice. However, the Court of Appeal held that negotiations (which are confidential to the Court of Justice) should be encouraged without prejudice, in order to prevent unnecessarily the applicants from being subjected to them. With respect to the status quo agreements, Lady Justice Asplin said: in August 2019, we finally have the clarity of the Court of Appeal on this issue in the Cowan/Foreman appeals process, where the appeal judges said that the high court was « clearly wrong » not to allow Ms. Cowan to pass her application for 17 months of atime. The judges confirmed that the delay was not considered disciplinary, but that the court had to judge whether an action had a real chance of success and that it had no chance of imagination. The judges stated that it was wrong to require a « good reason » for a delay and largely supported the application of status quo agreements, as negotiations should be encouraged without prejudice rather than initiating legal proceedings. However, it is clear that the applicant would always take a risk in concluding such agreements, since subsequent confirmation of the Court`s authorization would require that the appeal be removed from time. The judges also stated that status quo agreements should be clearly and in writing on the terms and duration of the impasse and that all potential parties to the claim should become contracting parties to be effective. This indicates that indeterminate status quo agreements could be even more problematic. Although this is not a status quo agreement, the decision in Re Bhusate (deceased) [2020] EWHC 52 (Ch) to allow a widow to pursue a claim almost 26 years after The expiration of Section 4 appears to be consistent with the Court of Appeal`s more lenient delaying approach. Re Bhusate is undoubtedly a factual decision since the estate was not managed despite the deceased who died in 1990. Nevertheless, it may extend to some assistance to section 4 applicants, arguing that no delay should be considered totally excessive if other factors are favourable to it.

The claim involved a valuable rebate of approximately $29 million, with a fiduciary value of approximately $5 million. The estate was granted in December 2016 and the deadline expired on June 16, 2019. Mr. Mostyn J found that Ms. Cowan chose not to be eligible in time, but instead attempted to work with the trustees and reach an agreement. Fortunately, a clarification has been made. Cowan`s aggrieved party appealed. The Court of Appeal decided to balance a balance and stated that if practitioners were to pay attention to statutes of limitations, status quo agreements were often helpful. It recommended that clear written agreements be reached specifying the terms and duration of a status quo agreement and involving all parties involved. Earlier this year, the conflicting authorities of Bhusate/Patel [2019] EWHC 470 (Ch) and Cowan v Foreman et al [ 2019] EWHC 349 (Fam) expressed doubts about the application of status quo agreements with respect to claims, Section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (« Act »).