I was interested in the comments of Richard Crumly on the case of Marley v Rawlings.
I take his point: it does seem somewhat illogical that a will in one person’s name but signed by another should be valid. However, it is not so illogical when one considers that one can direct a third person to sign a will on one’s behalf.
Whatever the logic of this case may be, the Supreme Court has decided that the will was valid and that is the end of it. The case will clearly help solicitors to avoid negligence claims and competing beneficiaries of estates to avoid wasting their money should the same set of circumstances arise in the future.
What is really interesting about this case, however, (apart from the obvious academic interest) is how it got all the way to the Supreme Court when the amount at stake was about £70,000. The costs of the parties will (I assume) have wiped out the estate completely, leaving the parties with massive legal bills. Mr Marley would clearly be able to claim his losses from the negligent solicitor but presumably the other parties would not because the solicitor would not owe them a duty of care, since they were not intended to be beneficiaries in the first place.
It is hard to see why the Rawlings contested the case since the costs were always going to wipe out the estate – even if they had won, it would have been a pyrrhic victory. Perhaps they were hoping that the solicitor’s professional indemnity policy was going to pay out Mr Marley without the case going to court and the professional indemnity insurers hoped that the Rawlings would withdraw because the case was going to cost them a fortune.
In any event, the case has cost the Rawlings dear and Mr Marley will hopefully be compensated, which would seem to be the correct ‘moral’ outcome.
Stephen Thorn, Drivers, Malton