01 June, 2021
It has become increasingly common for personal representatives of an estate to find themselves in a position where they are required to bring or defend a claim against a third party. In these circumstances, it is possible for a personal representative to be reimbursed from estate for the costs they incur in bringing or defending a claim. However, this will usually be dependent on whether they are successful in the claim.
The reality is that many personal representatives often leave themselves exposed to being personally liable for costs in legal proceedings and end up with no right to be reimbursed from the estate.
A solution that can offer protection for personal representatives against personal liability for costs comes in the form of a Beddoe Order.
A Beddoe Order is an order made by the court which provides a personal representative with prior approval to take a specific course of legal action and recover the costs of such action from the estate, irrespective of whether they win or lose. The order is named after the 19th century Court of Appeal case Re Beddoe, Downes v Cottam  1 Ch 547 in which it was stated:
"...a trustee who, without the sanction of the Court, commences an action or defends an action unsuccessfully, does so at his own risk as regards the costs"
A personal representative seeking a Beddoe Order would need to make an application to court under Part 64 of the Civil Procedure Rules. When considering an application, the court will look carefully at whether the legal action being proposed by the personal representative is in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
Obtaining a Beddoe Order may appear to be the perfect solution to protect personal representatives from liability for costs, but anyone making an application should always seek to avoid the pitfalls and consider the following carefully:
At Forbes, we act on behalf of personal representatives bringing and defending a variety of claims against trusts and estates. If you would like further information or assistance in making an application for a Beddoe Order and bringing or defending a claim, please contact one of our Contentious Probate Solicitors by completing our online enquiry form here, who will be happy to help.