The claim is brought by a deceased wealthy businessman’s mistress for a share in his estate.
The businessman, Mr Baldev Kohli is described in the Times as a “larger than life” entrepreneur.
He had a relationship during his marriage to Mrs Harjeet Kaur Kohli and shared a house with his girlfriend, Melissa Proles and who is also the mother of their daughter, born in 2013. He remained married and when he died the mother, Miss Proles brought a financial claim for “reasonable provision” from his estate, for their daughter.
Mrs Harjeeet Kaur Kohli is disputing the claim on grounds her late husband’s intentions were not to abandon his family in India; nor was it his intention to make a home in Britain. Mr Kohli died in Delhi at the age of 59 in 2015.
The case is being heard in the High Court in London and the judge will be listening to arguments put by those representing each party to determine whether Mr Kohli’s will should be unpicked in order to make reasonable financial provision for his daughter with Miss Proles. The will did not make provision and, hence, the estate was left to his widow.
Questions are being raised as to the child’s paternity and as to whether the relationship between Mr Kohli and Miss Proles had hit the rocks before he had died.
The witch hunts and general defacing of the parties will continue. They will of course carry on paying for their respective teams of lawyers and for the cost of the hearing. This is not to speak of the loss of privacy to the parties by the publication of the details of the case regarding their private lives.
A promise to marry on the part of Mr Kohli is denied by his wife. However, do we ever really know what is said during a flourishing romance when we are not even present? This has to be based upon fiction and expectation.
This distressing case illustrates the type of blind madness that strikes people in such a highly emotive dispute when others strip down and pontificate around the facts and assumptions reached on the basis of the ever thinning factual information available.
Within family mediation we are able first to meet separately with each party on a confidential basis with a view to establishing the facts of the case from each individual without pressure. It is then a matter of organising a sensitive joint mediation to help both parties to feel listened to and thereafter to try and agree a rational compromise which helps them to move on with their respective lives.
The costs of coming into mediation are minimal by comparison with the costs of litigation.
There must also be careful consideration paid to the costs of allowing your life to be taken over by the endless hostility and exhausting court process that surrounds adversarial litigation which is all about money. Instead, it is vital to focus on the damage caused to the parties and their families by protracting such an acrimonious dispute.
In this case, Mr Kohli cannot return to express his wishes unless he had the foresight to record his testamentary wishes by video or by some other form of electronic secure device.
This case sets out the need for people with complicated lifestyles to consider what happens when they die and of the need to provide for the beneficiaries or victims of individual lifestyle. This is such a cruel situation for these people to find themselves in. I would urge them to quickly seek mediation to compromise this dispute.
I recall a senior family law barrister saying to me once during a highly emotive case that many such disputes are fought purely on the grounds of high principle. Emotions are a terrible thing when they become unleashed and the parties are led down the cruel route of litigation without a break to think about costs and “fall out” from the effects of litigation.
Mediation is a reputable, professional, tried and tested route for helping people who are in dispute to take advantage of a neutral place and an impartial professional facilitator(s) to consider their positions objectively and where their motives for litigation are tested in such a way they are able to step aside for a moment to check what their reasonable expectations are. This is instead of the long and expensive railroad of litigation.
Family mediation is available to those who wish to resolve inheritance disputes responsibly and who are in touch still with the practicalities as well as the sensitive way forwards to resolving highly emotional disputes that have no certain pathway towards resolution in the courts. The only certainty will be the very high costs and the never ending bitterness that will extend thereafter.
Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, Accredited Law Society and Family Mediation Council Mediator at Wynn Mediation, 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff On Sea, Essex SS0 9HW E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01702 341241.
PMM/Wynn Mediation January 2018