Thomson Snell & Passmore’s Dispute Resolution team has acted for the Estate of a deceased Baron, in a dispute over ownership of a rare and valuable item of jewellery.
The Baron lived abroad and following his death, his personal possessions, including the item of jewellery, were sent to a London auction for sale. At the last minute, a claim was made that the Baron had gifted the item of jewellery to a third party many years before his death.
It was agreed that the item of jewellery should be sold and its proceeds held in an escrow account pending determination of the dispute as to its ownership, and thereby the entitlement to the proceeds. Under that agreement, the sale proceeds would automatically pass to the claimant unless the dispute was resolved, or proceedings were commenced in the High Court, within a short space of time following the auction.
The Baron’s Estate was unable to reach an agreement with the claimant and our Dispute Resolution team was instructed by the Estate’s local lawyers to commence proceedings in order to resolve the dispute.
Facing an imminent contractual limitation period, we took urgent instructions from the Baron’s Estate, through his local lawyers and in conjunction with Leading Counsel, proceedings were issued.
After a very careful evaluation of the legal arguments, the evidence and all of the risks associated with the proceeding to a full trial, we recommended and were instructed to enter into settlement discussions with the claimant’s solicitors.
To place the Baron’s Estate in a stronger negotiating position, though, requests for specific disclosure of documents were made, before further legal and factual challenges were made to the claimant’s case.
We were able to negotiate a pleasingly high settlement for the Baron’s Estate, which ultimately achieved its commercial objectives and avoided the time, cost and adverse publicity of a full trial of the matter.
The Estate’s local lawyers said:
It was an absolute pleasure working with Thomson Snell and Passmore. [Their] service was efficient and prompt and to the standard expected. They provided our mutual client with explanations at every step of the way which enabled them to make well informed decisions regarding the case. We would certainly consider using their services again.