The start of 2015 sees the publication of Professor Norman Palmer’s book ‘Art, Adventure and Advocacy’. The author looks at art transactions which have ended in dispute, and the litigation to which they have given rise – often with further calamitous results. A chapter worthy of particular mention deals with family fall-outs and the corrosive animosity that stems from disagreements about chattels which once belonged to an ancestor or sibling. While some of these family assets are of great value others have purely symbolic or emotional worth: a single dilapidated piano or an assortment of derelict cars.
What makes these disputes so sad is not only that they cause lasting rifts among family members, but also that the cost of going to court over such objects quickly outstrips any financial gain. This in turn leads to adverse rulings on costs, through which even a successful party can be left severely out of pocket. Here and in many other areas of dispute about movable assets, the case for mediation or some other form of ADR is a compelling one.