A family court judge has rejected a son’s claim that his parents’ grade 2 listed property should be handed over to him in their divorce settlement.
William Reeve said his father had made a promise to hand him Leadenham House, which has been in the family for more than 230 years.
However, both parents Peter and Henrietta had agreed to split the estate as part of their divorce settlement, implicating the potential sale of the property.
Mr Reeve said the settlement backtracked on a promise of keeping the property in the family and it was “unconscionable” to split it up in the divorce.
“The goal of my case is to keep the estate together – my primary aim is securing the future,” he told the court.
But Judge Jane-Anne Evans-Gordon said any assurances given to him by his father were “not sufficiently clear” to be relied upon.
While she accepted that Peter had made “various representations to William about passing on control or ownership of the estate”, she ruled that William had been given “no sufficiently clear assurance” that the estate would be transferred during his father’s lifetime.
A subsequent appeal claiming that the judge has been “biased” in his case was also dismissed.
Handing down his judgment, Lord Justice Baker said there were “no grounds whatsoever for thinking that Judge Evans-Gordon was biased.”
“Far from supporting William’s assertion that the judge was concealing information from the matrimonial proceedings, the transcript demonstrates conclusively that she was doing her best to ensure that anything relevant to his claim was disclosed to him.
“No fair-minded and informed observer would conclude that there was any real possibility that Judge Evans-Gordon was biased.”
He added: “It is obviously a tragedy for your family what has happened. It is very sad indeed.”