A Russell-Cooke team recently represented the applicant mother in Re B (a Child), a case dealing with issues that arise when a child habitually resident in England and Wales becomes the legal owner of property abroad. The outcome involved obtaining authority from the English Court to accept succession on behalf of a minor of a French inheritance, and to enter into a contract of sale on behalf of the child in respect of an interest in property forming part of it.

In the case heard in the Family Court, Mr Justice Peel made an order authorising B’s mother to enter into a contract of sale on behalf of B, holding that entering into a contract to sell property on behalf of a minor was an aspect of parental responsibility. The Court could thus authorise a parent to execute such a contract in relation to property abroad on behalf of a child under the Children Act 1989.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Peel also provided useful guidance for practitioners on the procedure to be followed in such applications.

The Russell-Cooke team consisted of partner Gareth Ledsham, assisted by associate Georgia Haughney, instructing Georgia Bedworth of Ten Old Square Chambers.

Gareth Ledsham said: This was a very interesting and unusual case and it was extremely gratifying to be able to clarify the law and procedure applying in such situations, as there has historically been a deal of legal uncertainty. It was also helpful that the Court made clear that the majority of such cases should be brought in the Family Court not the Chancery Division, and gave useful pointers on how the applications should be put together. It is hoped that future applications will be able to be dealt with more easily and cost-effectively.

Gareth Ledsham is a partner in the trust and estate disputes team. Acting for both claimants and defendants on a range of contentious trust and probate matters, Gareth's remit includes will challenges, claims for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, claims concerning domicile, breach of trust and claims relating to ownership of a deceased's property (implied trusts and proprietary estoppel). He has a particular interest and experience in disputes involving assets in civil law jurisdictions.

Georgia Haughney is an associate in the trust and estate disputes team. She acts for both claimants and defendants on a range of contentious trust and probate matters, including claims pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, will challenges, claims concerning the beneficial ownership of property and estate administration disputes.