Loxley successfully defends legacy for horse charities

Loxley recently acted for two equestrian charities, The Horse Trust and the Society for Horses and Ponies, in successfully defending a challenge to a charitable bequest.

John Hopkins, a farmer and keen horseman, died in 2010. Almost the entirety of his estate was left to the two charities. One of Mr Hopkins' former girlfriends, Margaret Rawlings, challenged the bequest. Relying on the doctrine of proprietary estoppel, Mrs Rawlings claimed that, back in the early 1990s, she had supported Mr Hopkins financially in building a large farmhouse on his property which (she said) Mr Hopkins had promised he would leave to her on his death.

Following a trial at the High Court in Birmingham, Judge David Cooke rejected Mrs Rawlings' claim in its entirety. The Judge found that Mr Hopkins never promised to leave the farmhouse to Mrs Rawlings, nor did he say anything which could have led Mrs Rawlings to believe she would inherit it. Any financial contributions she might have made were not given in reliance on any belief that she would one day inherit the property. There was also no evidence that Mrs Rawlings' financial contributions were as substantial as she had claimed.

A copy of the full judgment can be found here.

Rawlings v. Chapman and others [2015] EWHC 3160 (Ch)

For more information, please contact Fred Harrison-James on 01453 700625 or fred.harrison-james@loxleylegal.com.