Blue-plate successfully provided support to a client business owner engaged in a lengthy dispute with the estate of a deceased partner. Blue-plate’s intervention arose from observing the frustrations being experienced by the client, dealing not only with their emotional grief at the sudden loss of a long standing friend and colleague, but also trying to manage the business and probate issues. These issues required dealing with the solicitors and valuers acting for each party, key man insurers and the seemingly irrational and intransigent strategy of the former partner’s estate.
Management consultants are not usually engaged in these probate disputes and, therefore, Blue‑plate’s experience may be of help to those involved in similar situations; especially with regard to working with the other professional parties. Blue-plate provided a valuable mentor, interlocutor and commercial role working collaboratively with the client’s solicitor and valuer. In particular:
- As mentor, spending time with the client explaining the terminology and issues contained with the legal, insurance and valuation issues. For a client without the background or previous experience of dealing with similar issues, confusion and misunderstanding is inevitable from the outset. This is especially true, where the quality of reports and correspondence is generally poor in terms of being clear and concise.
- As interlocutor with the other parties, where the involvement of a solicitor may compromise them or generate a more guarded approach. Part of this was in the mediation dispute resolution process. This was a one day process, facilitated by a trained mediator and convened in a mediation suite, to resolve matters between the parties. During the day, Blue-plate provided financial and commercial expertise as part of this process. Although agreement was not reached during the mediation day, a settlement was reached shortly after in a face to face meeting between the client, Blue-plate and a representative of the deceased partner’s estate.
- Commercially being able to more fully appraise the valuer in terms of the past and forecast business performance and the circumstances giving rise to the key man insurance policy value. At the time the insurance was incepted, the valuation was based on what the partners could afford in premiums at that point in time, and not on a professional valuation of the business. This was a crucial distinction because of the deterioration in the business in the subsequent years. In addition, suggesting approaches that could hasten the process to an eventual settlement.
During this entire process, Blue-plate ensured that as part of the team, any advice and guidance given was shared collaboratively with the client’s solicitor. This ensured further confusion was avoided and the client became rationally and emotionally prepared for a settlement that was regarded as fair to both parties and precluded a further costly legal process.