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Issuing A Claim Without Letters Of Administration

When can court proceedings be brought on behalf of an estate?

This will depend on whether the PR is an executor (appointed by a will) or administrator (certain classes of people in certain orders who can apply for probate where there is no will under the rules of intestacy).

The authority of an executor drives from the will itself so there is no need for them to have first obtained a Grant of Probate before issuing a claim.

This is established authority from the early case of Chetty v Chetty [1916]. However, a Grant of Probate is required to prove title so no order or judgment can be made by a court without the Grant of Probate.

Where there is no will, an administrator’s standing to issue court proceedings will arise only once Letters of Administration have been obtained as confirmed in the case of Jennison v Jennison [2023].

But what if there a grant obtained outside of the English jurisdiction? This was the issue before the court in the case of The Ali Abdullah Alesayi Will Establishment v Ali Alesayi [2023].

The Ali Abdullah Alesayi Will Establishment v Ali Alesayi [2023]

This concerned the estate of Mr Ali Abdullah Ali Alesayi who died in September 2019.

The Claimant is a company registered in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Defendant is one of the sons of the deceased.

Mr Ali is said to have settled the Prove of Will before the Jeddah General Court on 5 September 2011.

On 22 April 2011 a Probate Order was made in Saudi Arabia granting Mr Mohammed (the Defendant’s brother) the right commence legal proceedings on behalf of the claimant company

The court affirmed that

It is a general requirement of English law that a grant of representation must be obtained in England in order to enable a person representing a deceased person abroad to bring proceedings in England. Authority granted in a foreign country has no operation in England.

The court therefore dismissed the claim as the claimant did not have standing to pursue the four causes of action as they were all concerned with the administration of the estate (rather than claims being bought personally for the claimant).

The claimant was not named in the Proof of the Will and could only apply for letters of administrations (which it did not do in this jurisdiction) so the proceedings were a nullity

Final Words

Before expensive litigation is embarked on by PRs they should have appropriate legal advice on whether they have standing to bring the claims, as well as having the costs benefit analysis undertaken to avoid unnecessary risks to the estate and jeopardising the interests of beneficiaries. Otherwise, a PR can find themselves open to claims for breach of fiduciary duty to beneficiaries for embarking on costly and unreasonable litigation.

If you would like legal advice about contentious probate matters, please call 0330 822 3451 to speak to one of our dispute resolution experts or request a callback online.


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