On appeal from: [2012] EWCA Civ 61

This appeal concerned the validity of a will, where a married couple wrote and signed identical wills. However, by an oversight of their solicitor, each signed the other’s will. The wills were intended to leave their estates to each other, or in the event of the other already having died, to the appellant. The mistake did not come to light until after both parties had died. The respondents challenged the validity of the will, because if the wills were held to be invalid they stood to inherit the estates themselves.

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, holding that the will should be rectified to contain the typed part of the will corresponding to the correct signature. This is to interpret the will in accordance with the intention of the testator, in the same way as a contract is interpreted under the Administration of Justice Act 1982, s 21. The Court rejected the argument that the wills could be treated as valid by making deletions, and also admitted that there were problems with using the approach of interpretation. However, they held that under s 9, this did not prevent a will from satisfying the formality requirements. There was no doubt from the face of the will, or the evidence, that it was the intention of the will maker at the time of signing the will that it should have effect, therefore s 9 was satisfied. The appeal succeeded on the grounds that it could be rectified under s 20.

For judgment, please download: [2014] UKSC 2
For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary
For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII