Gregory & Anor v Moore & Ors, Court of Appeal - Chancery Division, September 06, 2018, [2018] EWHC 2343 (Ch)

Resolution Date:September 06, 2018
Issuing Organization:Chancery Division
Actores:Gregory & Anor v Moore & Ors
 
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Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWHC 2343 (Ch)

Case No: HC-2008-000028

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

CHANCERY DIVISION

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF BARRY

JOHN PRING DECEASED

Rolls Building, Fetter Lane,

London EC4A 1NL

Date: 06/09/2018

Before :

CHIEF MASTER MARSH

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Between :

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John Mclinden QC (instructed by John F S Cabot) for the First Defendant

Leslie Blohm QC (instructed by Stephens Scown LLP) for the Second and Third Defendants

Hearing dates: 2 August 2018

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Chief Master Marsh:

  1. This claim concerns the estate of Barry Pring who died in the Ukraine late in the evening of 16 or in the early hours of 17 February 2008. He was struck, while standing on the hard shoulder of the M06, part of the E40 autoroute, by a vehicle travelling without lights at some speed. He was crushed against the crash barrier and suffered very severe injuries. The vehicle did not stop and the identity of the driver is not known. Barry Pring had been dining with his Ukrainian wife, who is the first defendant, to celebrate their first wedding anniversary at a nearby restaurant.

  2. Barry Pring died intestate and had no children. He was survived by the first defendant, his parents Basil and Irene Pring and his brother Shaughan Pring. Mr Basil Pring died in 2015 and the interests of his estate are represented by Mrs Irene Pring and Shaughan Pring, who are the second and third defendants.

  3. In the first instance a grant ad collegenda bona in relation to Barry Pring's English estate was made on 20 October 2008 to two partners in Stephens Scown LLP. Subsequently, letters of administration were granted to the claimants on 1 March 2012. The first claimant was one of the original grantees. The second claimant, who is a current partner with the firm, replaced the other original grantee following her retirement. The assets of the estate have been realised by the claimants and the claimants' interest in these proceedings is now limited.

  4. The circumstances of Barry Pring's death have proved to be very controversial and they have been the subject of a great deal of interest by the press in this country. Barry Pring's mother and brother firmly believe that the first defendant was implicated in his death. At an inquest held in 2017 the Coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing. The verdict was subsequently overturned and a fresh inquest will be heard in early 2019.

  5. Section 1 of the Forfeiture Act 1982 precludes a person who has unlawfully killed another from acquiring a benefit in consequence of the killing and by virtue of section 1(2) a person who has ``aided abetted counselled or procured the death'' is treated as having unlawfully killed the deceased person. If the second and third defendants are right, the first defendant will not be able to claim her statutory legacy and life interest under the intestacy as it relates to Barry Pring's English estate.

  6. The lengthy history of the claim which was commenced in 2008 does not need to be recited. It suffices to draw attention to the following key steps that are relevant to the current position:

    (1) On 1 March 2012, Deputy Master Rhys joined the second and third defendants, ordered that a grant of letters of administration be made to the claimants and further ordered that there should be no distribution of Barry Pring's estate until either the investigation by the Ukrainian police into the death had concluded, or the conclusion of any inquest into the death by the Coroner, or further order.

    (2) Orders were later made requiring Stephens Scown LLP to report to the court periodically about the investigation into Barry Pring's death. The investigation in the Ukraine has proceeded slowly and no charges have been brought.

    (3) In August 2017, the first defendant applied for an order that the forfeiture issue should be delayed no longer. Deputy Master Lloyd heard the application, which was heavily opposed by the second and third defendants. On 5 December 2017 the Deputy Master handed down a judgment in which he concluded that the time had come ``... for the brake to come off the determination of the forfeiture issue...''. He made an order directing (in effect) the second and third defendants to serve points of claim on the issue of whether Barry Pring was unlawfully killed followed by service of points of defence by the first defendant and a reply. His order required that the claim of unlawful killing should be fully particularised.

  7. Pursuant to the Deputy Master's order, a case management hearing was held before me on 2 August 2018. In the course of the hearing, I ordered that certain parts of the points of claim should be struck out. There was insufficient time on the day to deliver judgment giving reasons for the striking out and I agreed with leading counsel who appeared for the defendants (the claimants played no part in the hearing) that I would at the earliest opportunity deliver a brief judgment to provide reasons for the striking out and reasons for granting or refusing permission to appeal.

  8. Concerns about the manner in which the points of claim were drafted, and the scope of the issues they cover, were raised in the points of defence. The first defendant declined to plead to paragraphs 8(15) to (18) and 9 to 12 on the basis that there were outwith the terms of Deputy Master Lloyd's order. In consequence of that objection, and other concerns raised by the first defendant, the second and third defendants issued an application that was listed to be heard at the CMC seeking permission, if required, to bring those parts of the claim to which objection had been taken and for permission to make a discrete amendment to amend...

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