I have always considered standstill agreements inappropriate in the context of a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. By entering a standstill agreement a defendant effectively promises not to put in a limitation defence if the claim is filed beyond the limitation deadline. But the defendant facing an Inheritance Act claim cannot promise to allow the filing of a late claim because it is a matter for the court to give permission under the provisions of the Inheritance Act, not a matter of limitation.
Justice Mostyn's comments on the irrelevance of a standstill agreement in this context only highlights the position of the law rather than setting a precedent.
Solicitors should be wary of advising clients with a claim under the Inheritance Act to enter a standstill agreement as it exposes them to the risk of a negligence claim should the client be denied permission to file their claim after the six month deadline.
Mostyn J was doubtful about the suggestion of a ‘stand-still’ agreement between the parties allowing for a time extension, despite the claimant’s lawyers suggesting this was common practice. He insisted it was for the court, not the parties, to decide on acceptable time periods in an inheritance claim.