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As the Preface to the 24th Update foretold, this update coincides with the 40th anniversary of the commencement of the 1975 Act on 1 April 1976.
The observations we made in that Preface about the contrast between society 40 years ago and in 2016 need not be repeated. It is sufficient to note that in its 40 years of existence the 1975 Act has been a most beneficial piece of legislation and it would be hard to imagine succession law without it. Whether the next 40 years will see testamentary freedom eroded and replaced with defined succession rights based on civil law principles remains to be seen. In this respect much may depend on the outcome of the Referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union in June.
There is another significant event that should be marked in this Preface. On 2 March 2016 the Supreme Court gave the charities interested in Mrs Jackson’s estate permission to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal given on 27 July 2015 in Ilott v Mitson. No doubt very interesting questions will arise in the hearing of that appeal in the Supreme Court. Without wishing to anticipate any of them, the interpretation of the maintenance standard could well be of significance, as may be the need to consider the way in which the claimant’s award should be structured so that the claimant’s entitlement to state benefits is preserved. Finally, there are many cases where the claimant, as an adult child of the deceased, has been estranged from the latter, for whatever reason. How far should that fact and the reasons for it be relevant, either generally, or within s 3(1)(g) of the 1975 Act?
This is the first time that the 1975 Act will be scrutinised by the Supreme Court. It is believed that the House of Lords never heard an effective appeal where the 1975 Act formed the basis of the claim, nor where its predecessor, the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938, was so engaged.
Apart from these milestones there has been little to report in the comparatively brief interval between this update and the last one at the end of 2015. We have continued the task of updating the text where needed, paying particular attention to small procedural changes, and developments in costs such as unbundling legal services. We have also updated the precedents in Appendix 3. On the issue of international succession rights, the recent decision of Henry Carr J on 15 February 2016 in Winkler and Another v Shamoon and Others  EWHC 217 (Ch) affirms the principle that a claim that involved entitlement to succeed to the deceased’s estate was a “succession” matter and excluded from Council Regulation 44/2001, Art 1(2)(a). The inclusion of this decision in the text at 9 footnote 20 was regrettably not possible because of proof and printing dates, but it will be referred to in the text in the 26th Update.
As in the past, we invite contributions and comments to us directly, or to Tony Hawitt and his colleagues at the publishers, now part of LexisNexis. We thank them for all their assistance in preparing for the publication of this update. On a final note referring to anniversaries, this update marks the entry of this work into its 13th and thus teenage years. We hope they will not be too troubled!
We have endeavoured to state the law as at 1 March 2016.
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