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The long overdue Presumption of Death Act 2013 has passed its first high-profile case with flying colours

7 March 2016

On 10 February 2016, the High Court granted the legal equivalent of a death certificate for Lord Lucan, the peer who disappeared on 7 November 1974 after the murder of his children's nanny at the family home. An inquest jury a year later named him as the murderer, but his body has never been found. The court issued a declaration of presumed death under the Presumption of Death Act 2013 (PDA 2013) bringing finality to the proceedings for Lord Lucan's family, and inheritance rights for Lord Lucan's only son, George Bingham.

This is arguably the most high profile case under the PDA 2013 to date, following the legislation coming into force on 1 October 2014. Prior to the PDA 2013, there was no single court procedure to obtain a conclusive ruling on a presumed death that would be effective for all purposes. Applications to the court could be made under specific legislation relating to particular purposes, suc...

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