Larke v Nugus – Information Request

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Its nature and effect?

Receiving a Larke v Nugus letter can seem rather scary but this short article should give further insight as to why they are sent, what you should do and what it all means.

A Larke v Nugus letter is sent when there is a dispute with a Will and the purpose of the letter is to gather as much information about the preparation and circumstances behind the creation of the Will as possible.

The Law Society in 1959 recommended that the Solicitor receiving the letter should prepare a statement for evidence containing the circumstances surrounding the execution and validity of the Will.

Information that should be provided in response to the Larke v Nugus include:

  • The relationship between the Will Writer and the Testator
  • Details on how the instructions were given and who was present at the time
  • Information on how mental capacity was established and documented
  • Earlier Wills, how does the new Will differ from earlier Wills and for what reasons
  • Whether the information provided to the testator was explained and understood
  • The execution of the Will, who was present and where it took place

This information should be supported by a copy of your contemporaneous notes or client file.

Scrutiny of this information will allow for an informed decision to be made as to whether there are any issues surrounding the validity of the document. It may sometimes be the case that after receiving this information the solicitors are satisfied that there is no case to answer. While you are not obliged to to provide a response to such a request we suggest that it is best practice that you do so, as a practitioner who is seen later on as having been uncooperative may have an adverse order for costs in any subsequent litigation placed against it.

If you are in doubt as to what to do or what is expected when you receive a letter about the validity of one of your Wills, you are entitled to contact the Society of Will Writers technical team for advice. This is a benefit of full membership.

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8 comments

  • samir sami

    1st November 2020 at 11:00 am

    If a solicitor receives a Larke v Nugus letter, is the solicitor obliged to provide the information or Will file ? can they be selective in what they disclose, refuse or ignore the information sought ?
    Are they allowed to charge for providing the information, if so is there a limit to what they can charge ?
    SS

    Reply

    • Siobhan Smith

      13th April 2021 at 10:05 am

      Hi Samir

      The recipient of the Larke v Nugus letter is under no obligation to reply to it, however they are under a duty to avoid lengthy or costly litigation, so the best course of action for them will usually be to respond to the Larke v Nugus. The Law Society advises that the quickest and easiest way to deal with a request is to provide the will file.

      They are allowed to charge a reasonable fee for the preparation of a response to a Larke v Nugus request and for photocopying relevant files.

      They should not be selective in what they answer, they should provide all information in relation to the preparation and execution of the will. Failure to provide all of the information or wilfully hiding important information can have severe consequences for the solicitor in question. In fact, in the case of Larke v Nugus itself (where the term for the letter originates from) the solicitor was ordered to pay the costs of the case despite winning as it was their failure to provide information initially that had led to the matter going to court in the first place!

      Reply

  • Sam Smith

    9th April 2021 at 3:41 pm

    Hi Ordish,

    Thank you for your message and apologies for the delay in our response.

    You are obliged to comply with a solicitor’s request for information when they issue you with a Larke v Nugus, and usually the easiest way to do this is by providing a copy of the client file to the solicitor. However no information should be supplied outside of the Larke v Nugus without the written permission of your insurers so you should contact them in the first instance.

    Reply

  • Siobhan Smith

    13th April 2021 at 9:54 am

    Hi Lee,

    The Larke v Nugus must be submitted by a solicitor, preferably one who specialises in contentious probate.

    Reply

  • Victoria Saujani

    12th May 2021 at 6:33 pm

    You can request the LvN as the ‘litigant in person’.

    Reply

  • John

    9th June 2021 at 10:31 pm

    Why would a solicitor / executor want to charge upwards of £2,500 plus VAT to respond to a Larke v Nugis request brought by two of the beneficiaries of a will who have given reasons? Is it not simply obstructive?

    Reply

    • John

      9th June 2021 at 10:33 pm

      Further to my question above… this solicitor / executor proposes to be charging £261 per hour for his reply….

      Reply

    • Siobhan Smith

      22nd June 2021 at 12:25 pm

      Hi John,

      A solicitor is allowed to charge for the preparation of a Larke v Nugus statement and for their costs incurred in photocopying etc. however, those charges should be reasonable. If you feel the charges are unreasonable we could only recommend that you contact the SRA for guidance.

      Reply

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