Some thoughts on Ilott v Mitson
5th April 2017
Alex Troup, barrister within St John’s Chambers’ wills & trusts team provides some thoughts on the recent Supreme Court decision in Ilott v Mitson. (reported sub nom Ilott v. Blue Cross and others)  UKSC 17;  2 WLR 979.
The facts of Ilott are now well-known. Mrs Ilott’s mother disapproved of her choice of boyfriend which led to a 26 year estrangement between them. The mother left a will in favour of animal charities. Following the mother’s death in 2004, Mrs Ilott launched a 1975 Act claim. By that stage she was living with her husband and 5 children in a house rented from a Housing Association and their income largely comprised state benefits, some of which were means tested.
At first instance the District Judge awarded Mrs Ilott £50,000. That was overturned on appeal by the High Court, where it was held that her claim failed. She successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal who held that her claim should succeed, but remitted the issue of quantum to the High Court. The High Court upheld the District Judge’s award of £50,000. That was overturned on appeal by the Court of Appeal, who granted Mrs Ilott the sum of £143,000 to allow her to purchase her house (with a discount under the right to buy provisions), plus an option to draw down a further sum of £20,000 at will. It was the charities’ appeal from that decision which led to the Supreme Court’s recent judgment.
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