Speechly takes on TLT’s LLP case to retain probate faculty

TLT’s LLP case to retain probate faculty” />Speechly Bircham and TLT Solicitors have brought a test case to the High Court that will impact on all firms wanting to convert to limited-liability partnership (LLP) status while retaining probate services.

If the decision goes against Speechly and TLT, this will stall LLP conversion for firms up and down the country that act as the executors of wills. It will also prevent firms that have already converted to LLP status from executing wills.

TLT became an LLP in November 2004. The following year it needed to execute the will of client Edith Rogers. However, in 2003 the probate registrars decided that, when a firm becomes an LLP, it is no longer a firm and its members are no longer partners. This makes the appointment of TLT partners to execute the will invalid.

Speechly, led by private client partner Alison Meek, is acting in a pro bono capacity for Bristol’s TLT, which has made an application to the Chancery Division to state that members of TLT LLP are still partners of a firm and should, therefore, be able to execute the will.

Speechly has not converted into an LLP but it has executed 11,000 wills for clients. If it wants to convert, it would need to contact all clients for which it acts as executor to change the wording in the will or forfeit its role as executor.

Meek said: “Although the Law Society made a contribution to the costs, it was concerned members of the profession who mustered the energy to get this important test case before the court and who financed the lion’s share of the costs.”

Meek has instructed Christopher Tidmarsh QC of 5 Stone Buildings. The case is being heard by Mr Justice Lightman, from whom a judgment is expected within the next few weeks.