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15 AUG 2011

FAMILY PROVISION: Iqbal v Ahmed [2011] EWCA Civ 900

(Court of Appeal; Pill, Jackson and Gross LJJ; 29 July 2011)

The wife came to England from Pakistan to marry. She was married for 22 years. The wife was 61 when her husband died. The wife was now seeking reasonable financial provision from the estate of the deceased husband. The will left the wife £8,000 and the right to occupy the former matrimonial home rent free but subject to various conditions (therefore precarious). The conditions included the wife's obligation to repair and insure. The remainder of the estate was going to a son by a previous marriage.       

The memorandum of wishes recorded the husband's view that wife ‘has not been a loving and caring wife' and accused her of abusing him. The judge awarded the wife a unconditional right to occupy the home for life on the basis that the deceased's son would pay half of the insurance and structural repairs (estimated cost over £30,000) plus a one-half beneficial interest in the property, plus the whole of the residuary estate (about £28,000) . At issue was whether this was more than reasonable provision. The son's appeal was based on the argument that the widow had no need to have half-share in the property as well as right to occupy for life. She could/would leave this interest to her own relatives.

Appeal dismissed. The relatively small size of the estate was the governing reality. The wife was entitled to ‘capital cushion'. Long marriage so matrimonial home was significant. Granting the wife a beneficial interest was necessary to make a clean break possible.  

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