Top 10 opponent traits that make us groan

Contentious probate, contentious trusts and estates, or inheritance dispute work – whatever you want to call it – is still a relatively recent speciality. There are many who profess to specialise in this area, but who have very little actual experience. There are those who think it is merely a subset of civil litigation or non-contentious probate work: such people tend to have little experience and will only deal with a handful of inheritance disputes a year as part of their wider case load.

At IDR Law, contentious probate work is all we do, and this makes a huge difference.

We come across many different types of opponent, but the more experienced and specialist they are in inheritance dispute work, the quicker and more effective the resolution and the better it is for everyone involved.

The good, experienced lawyers are proactive, thorough and have their client’s best interests at heart.


Top 10 traits that make us groan

These are just a few examples of things we come across in opponents, which do a disservice to all involved, and which often result in increased costs, delay and prolonged family distress with no benefit to anyone (including their own client!):


  1. being overly aggressive and escalating matters without following the ACTAPS Code and the pre-action protocol
  2. relying on a barrister for even basic drafting or before taking any action (i.e. acting as an expensive post box)
  3. refusing constructive settlement approaches due to fear or lack of experience in the process
  4. not understanding who the proper parties are to a dispute or whose authority is needed, or not needed, to compromise a deal
  5. refusing to draft documents at the end of a mediation, which leaves both parties potentially facing weeks or months of uncertainty, when everything could have been signed off on the day
  6. believing that a case is flawless and forcing litigation due to misunderstanding the risks
  7. taking counterproductive or overly-legalistic points which simply serve to erode time and the estate funds
  8. not responding to letters or failing to take appropriate action due to a lack of knowledge of how to drive something forward (there is always a way)
  9. refusing to pick up the telephone to the opposition, which is often a far quicker way of narrowing the issues in dispute
  10. refusing to use email and insisting on sending everything in ‘hardcopy’


Sadly, we see far too many cases with different combinations of the above. One current case has almost completed the entire list! So, to all those out there about to embark on probate litigation – if you cannot use us because your opponent already has, then at least check that whoever you choose to instruct has sufficient experience.

If you want some guidance on how to ensure that your proposed solicitors have the necessary experience, take a look at our Transparency Guide here, which has a series of questions you can reasonably ask to help you make an informed choice.

IDR Law is an approachable, boutique firm and the only one in the country dealing solely with inheritance dispute resolution. Whether you’re a law firm, or an individual who feels they would benefit from our expertise, get in touch here, email us at or call on 01423 637050.

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