During her lifetime, Judi Juliani, a celebrated actress, enthralled many theatre-goers with her immense talent. Her global success over many years enabled her to accumulate shares worth £200m in her private company, Ariel Ltd, and a valuable collection of jewel studded theatrical costumes. For the past 20 years, Judi employed her nephew, Oberon, a financial adviser, to run her business affairs, although she was much fonder of her nieces: Miranda, Titania, Viola and Bianca, who had lived with Judi as small children after their parents were killed in a car accident. Oberon’s father had been intensely jealous of his two sisters (Judi and her nieces’ mother) and, unknown to Judi, this resentment had spilled over into the next generation. Judi paid Oberon for his services but would never permit him to acquire any shares in Ariel Ltd, unlike her four nieces to whom she had given one share each in 2018. These four nieces, and Judi (who owned the remaining 996 shares), are the only shareholders in the company, and the company also has numerous employees. Over the years, Oberon grew to hate Ariel Ltd and everyone employed by it.
Judi never married and had no children. As she approached her 65th birthday, in October 2019, Judi made a Will appointing her solicitor, Romeo Romani, as executor and trustee, and containing the following clauses:
To my nephew, Oberon, half my shares in Ariel Ltd with no doubt in my mind that he will sell them and distribute the proceeds equally between all those who have ever been shareholders or employees of the company;
My twelve dearest jewel studded theatrical costumes, from the collection I own, on trust for my nieces: Miranda, Titania, Viola and Bianca, my first three such nieces to have those costumes which Bianca does not want (Bianca is to have no more than three items);
To Romeo Romani, the balance of my estate to be divided in whatever manner he sees fit amongst those who gave me an enthusiastic standing ovation on each occasion after attending all my lead-performances in Shakespeare plays throughout the Commonwealth countries of the world, and, whilst there, purchased a memento of their visit from the theatre gift-shop. If Romeo is not inclined to do this, then most of the balance of my estate is to go to Oberon with the rest to the British Actors’ Equity Association (BAEA).
Judi established Ariel Ltd in 1980, with the aid of a handful of staff but, by the date of her death, the workforce had expanded to around 800 employees worldwide. The Company’s Head Office in Indonesia was damaged during a tsunami in 1992, flooding the premises and causing widespread damage.
During her glittering career, Judi played the leading role in over 500 performances of plays by William Shakespeare in over 40 Commonwealth nations scattered across the world. Many theatres were housed in rather ramshackle buildings with few modern amenities or facilities.
Last month, Judi and Bianca were on a yachting holiday in the Caribbean when Judi fell from their boat during a hurricane and was drowned. When the yacht reached shore a day later, Bianca suffered a fatal heart attack in her hotel bedroom. Next to her lifeless body was found a copy of Judi’s Will, with a few words scrawled in lipstick on the dressing-table mirror.
Advise Romeo Romani upon the validity and effect of clauses (a), (b) and (c) of Judi’s Will.
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