Challen v Challen and Another: ChD 27 May 2020

Forfeiture rule disapplied after spousal abuse

The claimant sought the disapplication of the forfeiture rule. She had been convicted of the manslaughter of her seriously abusive husband. The court considered whether a conviction for murder set aside and replaced with one of manslaughter was a conviction under the 1982 Act, and that the three month strict time limit ran accordingly.
Held: The claim succeeded, and the forfeiture rule disapplied: ‘In my judgment, the word ‘conviction’ in section 2(3) of the 1982 Act does not refer to the occasion of the plea of guilty to manslaughter, but to the occasion (if they are at the same time) when the plea is accepted and the defendant is sentenced.’ and ‘ it is only at the point of sentence and not, if this is earlier, when the court accepts the plea, that there is a ‘conviction’ within section 2(3) of the 1982 Act, such that the three-month time limit begins to run.’
‘These facts are extraordinary, tragic, and, one would hope, rare. They lasted 40 years and involved the combination of a submissive personality on whom coercive control worked, a man prepared to use that coercive control, a lack of friends or other sources of assistance, an enormous dependency upon him by the claimant, and significant psychiatric illness. The deceased undoubtedly contributed significantly to the circumstances in which he died. I do not say that because coercive control is now a criminal offence, but simply because I consider that, without his appalling behaviour over so many years, the claimant would not have killed him. ‘

HHJ Paul Matthews
[2020] EWHC 1330 (Ch), [2020] WLR(D) 356
Bailii, WLRD
Forfeiture Act 1982
England and Wales
CitedCleaver v Mutual Reserve Fund Life Association CA 1892
The deceased’s executors objected to his widow maintaining action on a trust created by an insurance policy in her favour under the Act. She had been convicted of his murder. The executors’ case was that ‘it is against public policy to allow a . .
CitedIn the Estate of Cunigunda Crippen deceased 1911
Dr Crippen notoriously survived his wife. Between the date of his conviction for her murder and the carrying out of the death sentence passed on him, Dr Crippen made a will naming Ethel Le Neve as the sole executrix and universal beneficiary. Ethel . .
CitedIn Re Estate of Hall CA 1914
The rule of forfeiture applied as much to manslaughter as to murder. . .
CitedDunbar (As Administrator of Tony Dunbar Deceased) v Plant CA 23-Jul-1997
The couple had decided on a suicide pact. They made repeated attempts, resulting in his death. Property had been held in joint names. The deceased’s father asked the court to apply the 1982 Act to disentitle Miss Plant.
Held: The appeal was . .
CitedGray v Barr ChD 1970
The defendant had used a shotgun to threaten a man and the gun had accidentally gone off and killed him. The issue was whether the defendant could recover in respect of his liability under a policy of insurance. .
Held: The rule of public . .
CitedGray v Barr CA 1971
A husband had accidentally shot and killed his wife’s lover after threatening him with a shotgun.
Held: The court confirmed the decision at first instance. He was not liable to be indemnified by his insurers for the losses claimed against him . .
CitedRe H (Deceased) 1990
The Plaintiff had stabbed his wife to death while acting under a delusion induced by a reaction to a drug that he had been prescribed.
Held: Public policy did not require in every case of the manslaughter of a spouse that the forfeiture rule . .
CitedRegina v Cole CCA 1965
Six men robbed the bank manager and his assistant of monies in a safe in the vault of the bank premises. Two days later the appellant paid part of the proceeds of the robbery into two banks, located nearby to the vicinity of the robbery. Wax seals . .
CitedS v Recorder of Manchester and Others HL 1971
S, a 16 year old boy pleaded guilty to attempted rape before a juvenile court. The magistrates adjourned the case for inquiry reports. On the adjourned hearing, his legal representative referred to evidence of the boy’s mental condition, and asked . .
CitedLand v Land; In re Land, deceased ChD 13-Jul-2006
The claimant had cared for his elderly mother who ‘shunned any type of ‘officialdom’ including doctors and home helps.’ However, the claimant so neglected her that she suffered severe bed sores which had become infected in consequence of her lying . .
CitedD v L and Others ChD 16-Apr-2003
The claimant had been found guilty of the manslaughter by diminished responsibility of the deceased. He now sought disapplication of the 1982 Act.
Held: The application failed: ‘The reforms introduced by the Homicide Act 1957 were designed to . .
CitedChadwick v Collinson and Others ChD 24-Sep-2014
The deceased and the claimant lived together for about 10 years in an apparently stable and loving relationship. They had a son together. They also co-owned a house (by way of joint tenancy) in which they lived. In April 2013 the claimant was . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Wills and Probate, Crime, Criminal Practice

Updated: 12 November 2021; Ref: scu.650955