You and the Law – 14th September 2010

Can I sue?

I had a long-distance relationship with a woman for two years and spent nearly £10,000 on her.  I paid for her share of a holiday we took because she said her firm had gone into administration and she hadn’t been paid; she promised me the money when her second home was sold.  I also lent her money for a small claims case.

When we got back from holiday she sent me a text message saying the relationship was over.  Can I sue her for the money?  SL

The trouble is that you probably won’t have any documentation showing that the money you spent on the woman was actually a loan.  If you took her to court she would probably claim that you spent the money on her in order to win her affection, and that in view of the way she ended the relationship you were now seeking revenge.

I think you would probably have difficulty convincing the judge otherwise unless you have evidence to back up your claim.

Tax clanger

An elderly friend has been a widow for 20 years and relies on a trust set up by her late husband for her income.  The trust is managed by her daughter and nephew, but as a result of late or non-payment of tax the Inland Revenue has recently charged the trust £13,000 in interest.

The trustees have paid the debt from my friend’s income.  Is it legal for trustees to make the beneficiaries pay for their mistakes in administering the fund?  JH

The trust document is likely to state that, unless the trustees have acted fraudulently or unduly negligently, the trustees should not personally be liable for any errors committed in good faith.

However, it’s possible the trustees weren’t to blame for this.  If your friend receives interest paid direct to her it’s likely that she is responsible for paying the tax on it.  If the trustees are the ultimate beneficiaries there may be an argument that the interest should be paid out of the capital.

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