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Ninian v Findlay &Ors; The High Court waives Forfeiture rule for widow.

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Mr Ninian, a successful businessman, was married to Mrs Ninian and they had no children. In 2013 Mr Ninian was diagnosed with Progressive Supra Nuclear Palsy, a progressive incurable disease. As his condition worsened, Mr Ninian contacted Dignitas in Switzerlandas he wished to end his life. Mr Ninian was opposed to her husband’s intentions and tried to persuadehim on various occasions to reconsider. Mr Ninian did not change his mind, and since Mr Ninian was unable to travel on his own, Mrs Ninian agreed to travel with him.In 2017 Mrs Ninian helped her husband to book their travel and accommodation and, in November 2017, Mr Ninianended his life byassisted suicide in Switzerland.

On her return to England, Mrs Ninian was at risk of prosecution for assisting a suicide. Mrs Ninian decided to report herself to the police,instructed solicitors and was interviewed by the police. The CPS concluded that although there were sufficient grounds to charge Mrs Ninian, prosecuting her would not be in the public interest.

There was also a risk that Mrs Ninianwould not have been able to inherit her husband’s assets if an application underthe forfeiture rules was successful. The forfeiture rules apply in circumstances where a person has unlawfully killed another, or aided a person to die, and as such are barred from inheriting the deceased person’s estate.

Chief Master Marsh, after considering the evidence provided, Mrs Ninian cooperation, and the particulars of the case,granted relief from forfeiture.

March 2019
Álvaro Aznar Azcárate
Solicitor and Spanish Abogado