'Lord Scarman' The Telegraph (10 Dec 2004).

Scarman was assigned to the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division (moving to the Family Division when it was abolished) and presided over the longest probate case ever heard: his judgment ran to 24,000 words and his life was insured for £300,000 by one of the parties involved. During the case, he commented sagely: "Darkness and suspicion are common features of will cases. Truth too often is the secret of the dead or the dishonest."

1 Answer 1


It means exactly what it says: one of the parties (call them A) to the case purchased a life insurance policy that would pay £300,000 (presumably to A) if the judge were to die.

Why they did this, we can only guess. But if the case was extremely long, there may have been a greater chance that the judge would die before it ended, and this would presumably delay the proceedings even further, causing more trouble and expense to the parties. It may be that A wanted to be protected financially if this happened. Another possibility is that A felt that Scarman was favoring A's side of the case; if Scarman were to die and be replaced by another judge, it might reduce A's chances of winning, and so A wanted insurance against that.

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    FWIW, I have never encountered any case where anyone actually did this and there would be real questions under modern insurance law over whether such a life insurance policy would be valid under the doctrine that the insured must have an "insurable interest" in the person whose life is insured.
    – ohwilleke
    May 30, 2018 at 21:03

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