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Revoking of a Will Higlights JRO

Eighteen of our clients were the beneficiaries under a will, which was found to be invalid after the testator’s death due to negligence of the defendants

Higlights JRO

Cheoh Yeoh & Associates and Another v AEL and Others [2015] SGCA 29

Our 18 clients were the beneficiaries under a will, which was found to be invalid after the testator’s death due to the negligence of the defendants. The first defendant was the firm of solicitors engaged by the testator and the second defendant was the solicitor having conduct of the matter.

In a 66-page judgment released on 2 July 2014, the Honourable Justice Chan Seng Onn granted our clients’ claims in full (see AEL and Others v Cheoh Yeoh & Associates and Another [2014] SGHC 129). The said landmark judgment received widespread news coverage in Singapore and abroad.

In the defendants’ appeal to the Singapore Court of Appeal, heavy reliance was placed on the doctrine of dependent relative revocation or conditional revocation (“the Doctrine”).

The Doctrine stands for the proposition of law that when a testator destroys his/her last will and testament, on the condition that another will and testament would be made but no new/fresh will and testament is in fact made, then the destroyed will and testament can be revived and admitted to probate.

In a landmark decision which included the consideration of the origins of the Doctrine, as there had before this case been no instance of the Doctrine being applied in Singapore, the Court of Appeal held that the Doctrine does apply in Singapore.

Our counter was that the Doctrine however could not be invoked in this case as no evidence was adduced to invoke the Doctrine, and that in any event the presumption (at law) of revocation by destruction of the last will and testament must be rebutted before the Doctrine can be considered.

In a 56-page judgment released on 26 May 2015, the Court of Appeal agreed with our position and dismissed the appeal with costs. For completeness, the appellants’ other grounds of appeal against the findings of fact and the assessment of the evidence by the Honourable Trial Judge, were all similarly dismissed.

Our clients’ case was conducted by our Senior Consultant, Mr Andrew Ho who can be reached at +65 6411 5819 (DID) or at andrewho@etplaw.com.


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