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A recent case shows how a person who is intent on being difficult can obstruct matters for a long period. In the case in point, the court (after a legal battle lasting eight years and involving 25 court hearings) eventually deprived a father of the right to have influence over the operation of a trust established for his son.
The son was born in 2001 and his parents separated in 2002.
In 2005, the court ordered that the father should settle £220,000 for the purchase of a property to be held on trust for the child until he reached 21 years of age or completed tertiary education. One of the trustees was a friend of the father; the other was the mother’s accountant.
The mother identified a suitable property, but the trustee appointed by the father insisted various formalities were completed before the purchase could be approved and contracts exchanged. The father then sought another six weeks’ delay to allow him to obtain the necessary funding.
The wife sought a ruling from the court that the payment be made immediately and the court ruled that the father should make the payment by a fixed date. He and ‘his’ trustee then contacted the mother’s solicitors, the estate agents dealing with the property and the bank holding the trust funds and warned them not to act on the authority of the accountant trustee alone.
The wife again went to court, this time to obtain a ruling that she and her appointed trustee should be able to act alone to purchase the property.
The judge presiding over the final hearing called the continued litigation ‘a scandal’. It was noted that a great deal of delay and cost could have been avoided had the trust been set up with a more independent trustee in the first place.
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