Ilott v The Blue Cross & Others [2017] UKSC 17 and Martin v Williams [2017] EWHC 491 (ch)

Much has been written about the Supreme Court decision in Ilott since judgment was handed down on 15 March 2017. Given the plethora of articles that have been written elsewhere relating to that judgment the author will not give a detailed analysis of that case.

It is however noteworthy that Lord Hughes in the lead judgment in Ilott (see paragraphs 15 and 44) commented that in dealing with housing needs, for an adult child claimant, these should more often be provided by way of life interest rather than by a capital lump sum. As such the provision of a lump sum award by the Court of Appeal to allow Mrs Ilott to purchase her local authority property under the right to buy scheme was criticised and rejected by the Supreme Court. Instead the Supreme Court said that if it had been appropriate to deal with housing need then the right award would probably have been to provide Mrs Ilott with a life interest in the necessary amount to enable her to purchase her home rather giving her an outright award of that sum. As such if that award had been made Mrs Ilott would have had the right to use the capital to buy her house and live in it for the remainder of her life but on her death the capital sum would then have passed back to the charitable beneficiaries entitled to her residuary estate.

The Supreme Court did not of course award a life interest to Mrs Ilott. Instead it reinstated the award of £50,000 as originally made by DJ Million all those years ago. However, the Supreme Court did in effect conclude that a proper judicial consideration of the relevant section 3 factors in Mrs Ilott’s case could have led to three possible outcomes, any one of which would have been upheld had it been made by the first instance judge

  1. £50,000 as awarded by DJ Million; no award in accordance with the first tier appeal decision of King J; ora life interest in £143,000 to permit the purchase of a home (a hybrid of the Court Appeal decision).to have a roof over her avoided her having to downsize and move out of 20 Coburg Road; and it prevented Maureen from forcing a sale of the property.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.