Re 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 must be applied. The court should exercise a discretion after careful scrutiny of the facts of each particular case. The court relied on the decision in Gray v Barr, and concluded that had the rule applied it would have exercised its power under section 2 of the Forfeiture Act 1982 to modify the rule to reflect the justice of the case. The court should assess the wrongdoer’s culpability, and ask:- ‘Was Mr H guilty of deliberate, intentional and unlawful violence or threats of violence?’
Peter Gibson J said: ‘Mr Jackson [counsel for the claimant] submits that the forfeiture rule does not apply to every case of manslaughter. He pointed out that cases of manslaughter may vary enormously in gravity from the deliberate to the unintentional, and he submitted that in the light of recent authorities the appropriate test was that propounded by Geoffrey Lane J in Gray and Another v Barr [1970] 2 QB 626, 640: has the person been guilty of deliberate, intentional and unlawful violence or threats of violence? . . There is no authority binding on me that compels me to apply that test to a succession case such as the present case. I must choose between following the decision in Re Giles (Deceased) [[1972] Ch 544] and following Vinelott J in Re K (Deceased) [[1985] FLR 558] in applying the Gray v Barr test. I have no hesitation in taking the latter course. The concepts of public policy are not fixed and immutable. The recent cases show that the courts have come to recognise that so varied are the circumstances which may amount to manslaughter that it would not be just to apply the forfeiture rule in every case of proof of manslaughter.’
Peter Gibson J
[1990] 1 FLR 441
Forfeiture Act 1982 2
England and Wales
AppliedGray 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 . .

Cited by:
CitedSudershan Kumar Rampal v Surendra Rampal CA 19-Jul-2001
The parties were divorced, but when the husband applied for ancillary relief, the wife petitioned for nullity on the basis that the marriage was bigamous. The husband countered that she had known that his first marriage had only ended after this . .
CitedJ v S T (Formerly J) CA 21-Nov-1996
The parties had married, but the male partner was a transsexual, having been born female and having undergone treatment for Gender Identity Dysphoria. After IVF treatment, the couple had a child. As the marriage broke down the truth was revealed in . .
CitedMack v Lockwood and Others ChD 19-Jun-2009
The claimant had been convicted of the manslaughter of his wife. He now applied for relief agsinst forfeiture of his share of her estate. He was elderly and had suffered some mental impairment after a stroke, which might have led him to misjudge his . .
DisapprovedDunbar (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 . .
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 . .
CitedChallen 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 . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 11 May 2021; Ref: scu.235263