A short judgment looking at trust and estate costs principles

Mussell & Anor v Patience & Anor [2019] EWHC 1231 (Ch)

Following proceedings for an account by the claimants as executors of what they had done with the deceased’s estate HHJ Matthews ordered that the defendant do pay 80% of the claimant’s costs. He was then asked to decide whether the claimants should be entitled to an indemnity for the remaining 20% balance from the estate. Concluding that whilst they had lost on some issues the claimants had not behaved improperly or unreasonably and in accordance with section 31 of the Trustee Act 2000 (applied to executors by section 35) and CPR Part 46 Practice Direction, paragraph 1 they were entitled to such an indemnity.

“In my judgment the claimants have not behaved improperly or unreasonably … [A]s executors [they] have sought to advance the interests of all the beneficiaries by winding up the administration, in part by setting out what they consider to be the effect of the mediation agreement and the consequent effect on the interests of the beneficiaries. Accordingly, the relevant costs were properly incurred, even if they have not so far borne fruit.”