The Cost of Family Disputes
The latest “big money” inheritance dispute to hit the headlines involves South Korea’s richest man Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee. On Friday 1 February he won a court ruling against demands by his family to hand over £642 million worth of shares.
Mr Lee, 71,who has a personal fortune of $8.3 billion, was accused by his older brother and sister of hiding shares in Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung Electronics after the death of his father in 1987. Mr Lee, whose father died without making a will, took over chairmanship of Samsung. His brother Maeng-hee argued that Mr Lee inherited around $3.8 billion of shares without telling other family members who may have been entitled to some of them.
In April 2008 Mr Lee resigned in disgrace after being charged with tax evasion and breach of trust. He was convicted of tax offences but was given a presidential pardon in 2009 and returned to lead Samsung in 2010. The Samsung group has seen tremendous growth in the past few years and posted record quarterly profits of £4.2 billion for October to December 2012.
Mr Lee successfully resisted the claims brought by his brother and sister which – if successful – would have forced a restructuring of a complex web of share holdings and weakened Mr Lee’s hold on the giant conglomerate.
The case brought longstanding family resentments into the open and led to public denunciations with Mr Lee calling his older brother “greedy” while Mr Maeng-hee described Mr Lee, 71, as “acting childish”.
Sarah Young, specialist in contentious probate law at Huddersfield firm Ridley and Hall comments:
“In this case the amounts of money involved clearly made it worthwhile for the parties to litigate, but there will have been an emotional cost to the family to washing their dirty linen in public. “ She adds “often family members are asked to provide witness statements. This can result in old grudges being aired – it’s important to be sure that any allegations are relevant to the dispute and not just a matter of point scoring. Litigation should always be a last resort”
If you would like further information about inheritance disputes please contact Sarah Young at Ridley and Hall solicitors: direct dial 01484 558838 or switchboard 01484 538421, mobile 07860 165850. Sarah Young is a Partner at Ridley & Hall. She specialises in personal injury and contentious probate. She has a record of bringing the most complex cases to a successful conclusion.
Legal aid is being withdrawn for Will disputes from 1 April 2013; Sarah Young is one of the few specialists in this area who can offer legal aid. If you think you may have a claim, don’t delay, contact her now.