Sally Challen has been permitted by the courts to inherit her late husband's estate following the previous acceptance by prosecutors of a plea of manslaughter on her part. I do not seek to comment here on any of the issues surrounding the original criminal prosecutions but simply anticipate that this will be welcome news to some and of concern for others.
Whatever your thoughts on the case, the aim of the Forfeiture Act 1982 is to enable the court to determine whether, when a person is committed of "unlawfully" killing another, that precludes them from benefitting financially from their wrong doing. It is clear that some unlawful killings which fall under the scope of Act are not always straight forward - as was the case here.
Even when the court determines that the Act does preclude someone from inheriting from the deceased's estate, it can modify that rule if the "justice of the case" requires it. This allows the individual circumstances to be taken into account. That could be by the terms of a will or under the rules of intestacy - whichever were to take effect.
The quote highlighted here is a strong reminder that each case will be considered on the facts, including the conduct of the deceased and the 'offender' and that there is never any certainty that the modification of the rule will be applied.
"I emphasise that the facts of this terrible case are so extraordinary, with such a fatal combination of conditions and events, that I would not expect them easily to be replicated in any other."