Seeing that it’s Victoria Day Weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to write about a recent Court case in the UK. Maybe it’s my perception, but it seems that some of the most bizarre and colorful cases can be found in the Courts across the pond.
The case involves a lawsuit by Diane Holliday against the estate of the late Ramadan Guney. Mr. Guney was a wealthy Turkish-Cypriot businessman who owned among other assets, Brookwood Cemetery, the largest cemetery in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. He died at age 74 in 2006 leaving a fortune estimated at £28million.
Ms. Holliday, age 50, sued the estate for support claiming that the deceased was the father of her now 12 year old son and that she had had a relationship with Mr. Guney for 8 years. The claim was brought under the Inheritance ( Provision for Family and Dependants ) Act 1975.
In the proceeding, Ms. Holliday was seeking an order that the estate make “reasonable financial provision” for her and son. The claim is similar to a claim available to a spouse and child under Part V of the Ontario Succession Law Reform Act for support.
Mr. Guney had 6 children from a prior marriage. The children vehemently opposed any payment to Ms. Holliday and her son. One of the siblings, Erkin Guney was actually charged with hiring a hit man to murder Ms. Holliday, but he was acquitted of the charge.
In another bizarre twist, the siblings claimed that their father had been murdered and decided to have his body exhumed.
Ms. Holliday claimed she met the late Mr. Guney at the funeral of Dodi Fayed ( who died in a car crash with Princess Diana in 1997). Mr. Fayed’s funeral happened to take place at the cemetery owned by Mr. Guney.
What was Ms. Holliday doing at Dodi Fayed’s funeral? Well, in 1998 Ms. Holliday claimed that she had a relationship with Dodi Fayed as well and that Dodi Fayed was the father of her daughter. That claim was never proved.
In the current case, the siblings claimed that their father could not have fathered Ms. Holliday’s son as they maintained their father had a vasectomy 30 years before the boy’s birth. One would have thought that would have been a pretty good defence- but the judge ruled against the siblings and he criticized them for their “despicable behaviour” in the court proceedings.
The judge ordered that Ms. Holliday be awarded ownership of Brookwood Cemetery said to be worth between £700,000 and £1.2million as well as other properties including the home she shared with the deceased. In addition, Ms. Holliday was awarded £60,000 a year for support for her and her son.
Sounds like more than a “reasonable financial provision”.
The siblings have sought leave to appeal and a decision should be rendered on their application in July.
The Court case which has dragged on for over six years has resulted in legal fees in excess of £500000.
Have a great Victoria Day Weekend!