Joshua Hedgman secures release of deceased’s body following three-day High Court trial

Published: 08/11/2019 | News, Newsletters


Joshua was recently instructed in an unusual and very sad case concerning the body of lady who passed away as long ago as September 2018. The Deceased remained in HM Coroner for Westminster’s custody and had not been released for burial due to a dispute that had arisen between her daughters. 

Joshua represented the Deceased’s eldest daughter and executrix, who wished to repatriate the Deceased’s ashes to her native Lithuania in accordance with her desire to return there to end her days (a wish that was sadly never realised as the Deceased succumbed to her terminal prognosis). In contrast to that position, the Deceased’s youngest daughter contended that her mother’s ashes should instead be interred in London. The youngest daughter had therefore obtained an interim injunction in order to restrain the release of the Deceased’s body until the dispute was determined. 

The matter came on for trial before Mr Mark Cawson QC, sitting as Deputy Judge of the High Court. During the trial, Joshua cross-examined the youngest daughter as to the ‘on and off’ relationship that she had with her mother. Joshua also cross-examined on her erratic behaviour and conduct, which included the swearing of an oath that included false declarations of intestacy. 

Following Joshua’s cross-examination, the Judge found that the youngest daughter was not a reliable witness. She was not on particularly good terms with the Deceased, which caused her to develop an ’embittered frame of mind’. In turn, that frame of mind led to her swearing the false oath, whilst also herself raising allegations of fraud and impropriety without any credible evidence.

The Court directed HM Coroner to release the Deceased’s body to Joshua’s client immediately. She will now be able to afford her mother the dignity of a funeral. More importantly, Joshua’s client can give to her mother in death that which she sadly could not achieve in her lifetime; that is to say, her return home to Lithuania.