Heather Ilott leaves the Supreme Court Credit: PA

ITV REPORT  15 March 2017 at 10:26am

Three animal charities have won a challenge at the UK’s highest court over a six-figure award to a woman who was excluded from her mother’s will. Only child Heather Ilott was rejected by her mother at the age of 17 after she left home without her knowledge or agreement in 1978 to live with her boyfriend, Nicholas Ilott, whom she later married.

Attempts at reconciliation failed and when 70-year-old Melita Jackson died in 2004, her will made no provision for her daughter. Mrs Ilott, from Great Munden, Hertfordshire, made an application under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for “reasonable financial provision” from her mother’s £486,000 estate.

The mother-of-five, who was living on benefits at the time and is now in her 50s, was initially awarded £50,000, a sum that was later increased by the Court of Appeal to more than £160,000 in 2015. But on Wednesday, Supreme Court justices overturned that decision.

They ruled that the £50,000 awarded by a district judge in 20017 should be “restored”. The ruling by the Supreme Court marked the end of a lengthy legal fight which began when Mrs Ilott’s mother left the majority of her estate to charities. The Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals argued that the appeal judges “fell into error” when deciding to increase the maintenance payout, which included £143,000 for Mrs Ilott to buy her housing association home.

A panel of seven Supreme Court justices, headed by president Lord Neuberger, were urged at a hearing last year to overturn the Court of Appeal ruling and either make an “appropriate” order for Mrs Ilott’s “provision”, or restore the district judge’s order. The court said in announcing the decision: “The order of the Court of Appeal should be set aside and the order of the district judge restored.”

Last updated Wed 15 Mar 2017