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Predatory marriage; what can we learn from the recent case of Langley v Qin?

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The recent judgement in Langley v Qin has sparked widespread interest, attracting the attention of the national press. In this case, Jill Langley successfully contested the validity of a will made by her 94 year old father Robert Harrrington, made two months prior to his death, following a ‘predatory marriage’ between him and his former carer Guixiang Qin aged 54.


Robert Harrington passed away aged 94 in May 2020, just 11 months after marrying his carer Guixiang Qin, 54. Mr Harrington’s final will was written two months before he passed and left his entire £680,000 estate to Mrs Qin. This provoked Mrs Langley, his disinherited daughter to commence proceedings against Mrs Qin who she believed had lured her father into a ‘predatory marriage’

The trial concluded in February 2024, with a victory for Mrs Langley when the court ordered that Mr Harrington’s will would be set aside for want of testamentary capacity, want of knowledge and approval and undue influence.

Testamentary Capacity – The judge found that Mr Harrington had a ‘delusional state of mind’ evidenced by medical records which showed that he suffered from paranoid delusional disorder. This disorder caused him to reach incorrect conclusions which led him to believe that he had been a senior officer in the army. As a result of this confusion, the judge found that Mr Harrington lacked sufficient testamentary capacity to make a valid will.

Knowledge and approval – The court found that Mrs Qin was unable to satisfactorily explain money transfers made to her.  Mrs Langley’s barrister Mr McKean suggested that Mrs Qin had received payments totalling £350,000 from Mr Harrington however, she only admitted to receiving £100,000 from him.

Undue influence – it was found that Mrs Qin had control over Mr Harrington’s finances and that she had exercised a ‘guiding hand’ in ‘shopping around’ local solicitors firms until a will writer was found who was prepared to make Mr Harrington a will.

What does this mean?

At first glance, it looks as though this was a huge success for Mrs Langley;  because her father’s 2020 will was found to be invalid, and there was no other valid will, the estate will pass under the intestacy rules. In the circumstances of this case, Mrs Langley will inherit approximately £200,000. The court could not ignore the effect of the marriage itself, as established in the precedent set by Re Roberts [1978] 1 WLR 653. Consequently, Mrs. Qin stands to inherit a substantial portion of Mr. Harrington’s estate as his widow, despite what her clearly predatory motivation and behaviour

Predatory Marriage

A predatory marriage involves the exploitation of a vulnerable person to induce them into marrying another individual, often resulting in financial abuse. This abuse can stem from cognitive impairment (such as dementia), financial dependency, cultural factors, or other vulnerabilities. Predators typically target older individuals with cognitive impairments, grooming them into what are sometimes secret relationships for financial gain.

The threshold for having mental capacity to marry is lower than for making a will, and proving lack of capacity falls on the challenger. Registrars who conduct marriage ceremonies lack specific training in mental capacity, which can allow predatory marriages to occur.

One way to ‘disincetivise’ predators would be to change the current rule that a marriage automatically revokes a will.

How Ridley & Hall’s Litigation Solicitors Can Help

If you suspect that you or a family member may be a victim of a predatory marriage, don’t hesitate to reach out. Feel free to contact one of our knowledgeable litigation solicitors to obtain legal guidance through our freephone service. Your concerns matter, and we are here to provide the support and advice you need.

Rebecca Kershaw Headshot

Rebecca Kershaw – Apprentice Solicitor



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