On 19 July 2019, Jill Margaret Suckling received a suspended sentence of six months imprisonment for her failure to comply with an earlier court order.
Ms Suckling is named as a defendant in a claim being brought by Colin Suckling regarding the estate of the late Roy Thomas Suckling.
It seems that Ms Suckling had been acting as the administrator of the estate and, during the course of the claim, the court had appointed a substituted personal representative. As is normal when this happens, the court ordered her to deliver all documentation she was in possession of to the substituted personal representative so that they can take over the administration of the estate. In addition to this, Ms Suckling had been advised to prepare and distribute an account of all money / property that had come into her hands, supported by a statement of truth.
There are a number of different reasons why a new administrator can be appointed and such steps are ordered, including a personal representative not undertaking their duties correctly. Where this happens, the court orders the previous personal representative to hand over everything to their replacement to allow them to check all steps undertaken and complete anything that has not yet been done.
Despite the court ordering her to take these steps, Ms Suckling failed to comply and has therefore been held in contempt of court. This is a serious matter, which can result in a fine or imprisonment and in this instance the court felt it necessary to impose a six month imprisonment, suspended should she comply within 14 days of receiving the further order. If she fails to comply with this, Ms Suckling can be sent to prison for six months.
This decision shows the importance of complying with the directions of the court and the potential consequences of not undertaking the role of personal representative properly. It is a specialist job and even when people have the best intentions if they fail to take expert advice they may make mistakes.