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Daughter challenges £500,000 worth of gifts made to legal secretary

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Hari Sharma, who died in December 2010 aged 77, befriended the secretary of his solicitor, Jane Duke, following a stroke in 2005. She later became his carer and between 2006 and 2007 received gifts from him totalling over £549,000. One such gift was worth £301,941 alone. When Mr Sharma’s daughter, Ragny Sharma, found out about the transactions she commenced legal proceedings to recover the money. Having now settled the case with Mrs Duke agreeing to pay the money back, Miss Sharma has discovered that Mrs Duke claims to have already spent around £300,000 of it.

Lawyers for Miss Sharma claim the gifts left Mr Sharma in a poor financial state, with only his pension and the house he owned still in his name. Paul Judkins, acting for Miss Sharma, said “he was living in squalor, it was a pitiful state. His finances were just methodically cleaned out but despite everything he was happy to give her the money and leave himself impoverished. It’s satisfying that Miss Sharma won her case but a pity all the money wasn’t recovered.”

After being put in charge of her father’s affairs by the Court of Protection, who ruled in late 2007 that Mr Sharma was incapable, Miss Sharma accused Mrs Duke of ‘undue influence’ over her father. Mr Sharma himself apparently “consistently repeated, deeply felt and clearly expressed” his view that the action should be dropped and Mrs Duke should keep the money.

Details of the settlement were revealed this week after a court made a ruling on the costs of the action.


Written by Andrew Hodges

October 20, 2011 at 10:25 am

Posted in Comment, Compliance, LinkedIn

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