Prince Evans Takes “Spouse” Succession Claim To Court Of Appeal

Prince Evans Solicitors LLP has successfully obtained permission for the Court of Appeal to consider the definition of “spouse” under the Rent Act 1977 potentially entitling a widow to succeed to her late husband’s tenancy.

Prince Evans is representing a private tenant married under Moroccan law who is claiming to succeed to a Rent Act tenancy. She had been married for over twenty years and had two children. She was not separated from her husband when he died.

At the original trial, when she was represented by other solicitors, she was not successful. The Judge found her marriage was not recognised under English matrimonial law (although valid in Saudi Arabia and Morocco including for inheritance purposes) so she could not succeed to a Rent Act tenancy in England.

Hearing the application for permission to appeal on the 22nd February 2013 Lord Justice McCombe found that it was arguable in the context of the Rent Act 1977 (which contains no specific definition of “spouse”) that “spouse” could be defined by what an “ordinary man” understood as a spouse and not just as defined by matrimonial law precedents. He therefore gave permission for the Court of Appeal to consider fully how the word “spouse” should be defined.

Jeremy Teall, Prince Evans’ Partner and Housing Management Team Leader says “This case will potentially have a significant impact as, if a narrow definition of “spouse” is adopted by the Court, a statutory tenant’s wife who always regarded herself according to her religion and own national laws as married (as others did as well) would lose all rights to her home and that of her children. For example if she and her husband were living separately immediately before his death, she may also lose out on other significant inheritance entitlements. This is also potentially discriminatory against wives of marriages which have not been registered under English law.”

We will keep you advised as to how this case progresses.

If you have any queries concerning the matters raised please contact

Jeremy Teall, Partner and Housing Management Team Leader on

020 8567 3477 or e-mail