A summary of legal updates for the Private Client industry over the past week is as follows. 

Register of Overseas Entities

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill had its Second Reading, Committee Stage, Report Stage and Third Reading in the House of Commons on Monday and we understand is expected to be passed into law by the end of this week. The Bill will establish the long-awaited Register of Overseas Entities and is being passed as an emergency measure against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis and the need to show that action is being taken against Russian oligarchs. The Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has indicated that "it may take a few months to get the register up and running", and suggested that it will eventually, if not immediately, be open for public inspection, after negotiation with other jurisdictions. The draft legislation includes provisions for the dates of birth and residential addresses of individual beneficial owners to be restricted from public view. UK plans rapid implementation of Register of Overseas Entities legislation | STEP

Contentious probate – costs in Reeves v Drew

This week, High Court judge Mr Justice Michael Green issued the costs order in the case of Reeves v Drew & Ors [2022] EWHC 159 (Ch): "one of the most valuable probate claims ever determined in this jurisdiction" according to Serle Court (who acted for one of the defendants). The claimant (Louise Reeves) was ordered to pay 70% of the defendants' legal expenses, to be assessed on the indemnity basis (likely to exceed £1million); as well as her own legal costs of £1million. Constance McDonnell QC argued that Louise Reeves had been "calculated" in her "orchestration" of the Will and "manifestly dishonest" in that she had propounded a Will which she knew to be false. Daughter faces £2m legal bill after losing bitter family court battle over father's £100m fortune | Daily Mail Online 

Contentious probate – Will dispute statistics

Recent research from Direct Line Insurance has found that one in four people would challenge a Will if they were unhappy with the way assets were distributed. Last year, it was revealed that the number of disputes fought in the High Court reached a record of 192 in 2020. The rise is attributed to the cost of living crisis and decades of house price growth. Rise in number of Wills contested | Fraser and Fraser

Vulnerable adults – lifetime care costs cap

The government has launched a consultation seeking views on how a cap on care costs would operate in practice. On 7 September 2021, the government announced the introduction (from October 2023) of a £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England will need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime. The consultation runs until 1 April 2022. Operational guidance to implement a lifetime cap on care costs - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Charities – Russian donors

In light of the Ukraine crisis, both the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator in England, Northern Ireland and Wales have warned charities to make sure they know their donors, and consider whether or not to accept donations, including where there may be a reputational implication for them doing so. Statement on Ukraine crisis and its implications for charities - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)