Case summary: Howard v Howard – Lawson [2012] EWCA Civ 6

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This case involves a dispute between a father and son over the sale of a £2.5 million thirteenth century ancestral home.


Phillip Howard, claimed he was entitled to £1.5 million from the sale of Corby Castle.  His father, Sir John Howard- Lawson, had sold the property in 1994.  Included in the sale were all contents and land.  It sold for £2.5 million. 


Phillip claimed his father had no right to sell the property as his father had failed to comply with the terms of a Will made in 1934 by Philip’s great-great grandfather.


The Will included a clause which required an heir to apply for and endeavour to obtain the Royal Licence, or take such other steps to authorise the use and bearing of the name and arms concerned within one year. 


It stated that if an application for Royal Licence was made within one year there was no independent need to take up the name before the Royal Licence was granted. 


Philip claimed that his father failed to do this and so should not have benefited from the sale of the property.  In response, Sir John argued that he had indeed begun to use the name within the required time and stated that the sale of Corby Castle was only necessary to assist Philip when he got into financial difficulties. 


Lady Justice Proudman ruled at first instance that Sir John had inherited the property.  The case was appealed by Philip and the decision1 at first instance was upheld in the Court of Appeal who also awarded Sir John £22,000 by way of costs.


Following this decision Philip has applied to take the matter to the Supreme Court.


Katie Mundy

Cripps Harries Hall LLP

March 2012


1Link to judgment: Howard v Howard – Lawson [2012] EWCA Civ 6


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