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Sangha -v- Sangha IV – Revocation means revocation

Sangha -v- Sangha IV – Revocation means revocation

Sangha -v- Sangha IV – Revocation means revocation

The latest chapter in this long running saga has now reached the Court of Appeal and has so far, spawned 3 previous blogs.

By way of reminder, previously on Sangha -v-Sangha: when the deceased died in 2016, he effectively left two families the first consisting of his first wife and their son and daughter and the second, his second wife and their son.  That said, the validity of the second marriage has apparently yet to be determined.

The purported second wife of the deceased was the claimant.  The five defendants consisted of the estate of his first wife, his three children (by the two “wives”) and finally his sister to whom at one stage the deceased was particularly close but then estranged but then possibly reconciled.

This was the second appeal, the case having originally been the subject of a 9-day trial in September 2021.

The deceased left behind four Wills:

  1. A 1979 Will splitting his property between his first wife and his two children by that marriage.
  2. A 2003 Will covering only his properties in India with those going to his second (“wife”) and their son.
  3. A 2007 Will covering all of his property in the UK and India leaving everything to his second “wife” or if she predeceased him their son.
  4. A 2016 Will only covering his land and assets in India which provided that they should be split equally between his first wife, one of her children, his son by his second wife and his sister.

The 2016 Will contained what is known as a revocation clause:

“this is my last and final Will, and all such previous documents stand cancelled”.

The trial judge decided that the ordinary and natural meaning of the words used meant that all previous Wills should be revoked such that the 2016 Will was the only one left standing.  However, the judge dealing with the first appeal decided that as the 2016 Will was an entirely Indian document drafted in India with the assistance of an Indian lawyer and related exclusively to his property in India it only revoked the 2007 will in relation to the deceased’s property in India and not in England.

The Court of Appeal however took a different view and restored the trial judge’s decision even though the effect of that decision was to create an intestacy in relation to the deceased’s English estate. They decided that if a duly executed Will contains a general revocation clause that of itself is powerful evidence that that was the deceased’s intention and anyone seeking to establish the opposite carried a heavy burden of proof.  The natural meaning of the words “all such previous documents stand cancelled” was that it cancelled all previous Wills.  The only basis upon which that would not happen would be if there was convincing evidence that that was specifically not what the deceased’s intended.

The majority of the deceased’s estate (approximately £30,000,000 was in India).  His English estate was much smaller and a significant proportion of it was jointly owned such that in any event it passed to his second “wife” under the right of survivorship.

A revocation clause itself provides strong evidence of the testator’s intention to revoke all previous wills.  There was in this case  no actual evidence of the deceased’s intentions in relation to revocation of previous wills and although there is generally a presumption against creating an intestacy or partial intestacy it  now appears that that is, at least in certain cases, of limited weight.

It is difficult to imagine that this represents the end to this saga. Watch this space!


Read the first Sangha -v- Sangha blog here: Real News About Fake Wills!

Read the second Sangha -v- Sangha blog here: The Law of Unintended Consequences.

Read the third Sangha -v- Sangha blog here: Sangha -v- Sangha III: The Revocation of the Total Revocation – IBB Law


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The information given here is intended for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.

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