Widow forced to settle with husband's ex-wife

Solicitors in Northern Ireland will have watched an unusual case with interest, as a woman whose husband died only hours after they married has been forced to pay £100,000 to her groom's ex-wife.

Three Court of Appeal judges ruled that as Owen Soulsbury had promised his former wife, Elizabeth, the money on his death, then his new wife, Kathleen, would have to settle up.

Elizabeth married Mr Soulsbury in 1966, but they divorced 20 years later and her ex-husband was ordered to £14,400 a year to her, including maintenance costs.

Yet in 1993, the ex-couple agreed that he would pay her £100,000 on his death, instead of maintenance.

After ten years living together, Kathleen married Mr Soulsbury on October 10th 2000 at Charing Cross Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for leukaemia, and he passed away later that day.

The newly-widowed woman refused to pay the money promised to Elizabeth, as she said her marriage invalidated her husband's will.

Lord Justice Ward said: "Where the promisee has honoured her bargain, the deceased would remain bound to honour his. If he failed to provide payment for her on his death, her right to that payment became enforceable by a direct right of action for breach of contract against his estate."

Elizabeth said she was "very happy" but would not make a full statement until she had spoken to her solicitor.

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