Law Lords extend will duty of care

In a landmark ruling last week the Law Lords, by a three to two majority, upheld an Appeal Court decision that two sisters, who as a result of delays in preparation of their father's will lost out on legacies intended for them, are entitled to damages and interest from the Birmingham firm of Philip Baker King & Co and one of its legal executives.

The testator died before the will had been completed. But the courts have held that delays in its completion were the result of negligence on the part of those drawing it up.

In 1993 the Court of Appeal over-turned an earlier High Court ruling in the case that solicitors could not be held liable to would-be beneficiaries in such circumstances and awarded the sisters u9,000 each, along with interest.

Last week, Lords Goff, Browne-Wilkinson and Nolan upheld that decision, Lords Keith and Mustill dissenting.