Court upholds Strickland Foundation claims in dispute with heirs over Lija palazzo

A court has ruled in the dispute between the heir of Mabel Strickland and the foundation to whom she bequeathed use of her Palazzo Parisio in Lija

Villa Parisio in Lija - the stately home was bequeathed to Mabel Strickland’s nephew Robert but also as the seat for the Strickland Foundation, owners of The Times
Villa Parisio in Lija - the stately home was bequeathed to Mabel Strickland’s nephew Robert but also as the seat for the Strickland Foundation, owners of The Times

The Maltese courts have rejected a series of claims filed by the heir of newspaper publisher Mabel Strickland, against the Strickland Foundation over the use of her Lija palazzo.

The case concerned the interpretation of her will on the extent of the right of use and habitation granted to her nephew Robert Hornyold Strickland, of Villa Parisio, which she also left as the property and seat of the Strickland Foundation – the major shareholder in Allied Newspapers, publishers of The Times.

In her will, Strickland bequeathed Villa Parisio to the Foundation and granted Hornyold Strickland “the right of use and habitation of the guests rooms with bathroom and study at Villa Parisio, provided that the enjoyment of such right shall in no way intefere with the work of the foundation.”

Hornyold Strickland insisted that his rights extended to all the rooms in the villa and requested the court to order the foundation to grant him possession of all these rooms. But the Foundation countered that the will limited him to “the guests rooms with bathroom and study at Villa Parisio provided that the enjoyment of such right shall in no way intefere with the work of the foundation.”

In its judgement, the Court rejected Hornyold Strickland’s interpretation and decided that his right of use and habitation is limited to those areas of the villa indicated by the executors of the will which were shown in the plan exhibited by the foundation in the records of the case.

The foundation said that the cameras were removed over a year ago and that since then, Hornyold Strickland installed security cameras in other areas of the villa. in areas of the Villa over which he has no right of use and habitation. “In a separate judgement of the Criminal Court, Mrs Hornyold Strickland was found guilty of having harrassed the Foundation’s employee,” the foundation said.

The villa is made use by the directors of the Strickland Foundation to host events and serves as the administrative office of the Foundation.

In its statement, the foundation said that in recent years it had limited its presence at the seat to a bare minimum, given the ongoing court proceedings, and used alternative venues to host its events and meetings.

“While the Foundation will continue to respect Mr Robert Hornyold Strickland’s right to use the guestrooms of Villa Parisio as defined by the Court, the Foundation hopes that Mr Hornyold Strickland will now respect the rights of The Strickland Foundation to make use of Villa Parisio as its property and seat,” the foundation said.

The decision, delivered by Judge Silvio Meli, also rejected Hornyold Strickland’s claims that the land interconnected with Villa Parisio pertains to him, and that the Foundation passes on the land to him.

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