Ruling issued

September 7, 2023

The Guardian reports this week on the High Court litigation between Benedicta Onwordi and the daughter of Peter Otitoju, who died aged 67. Benedicta the partner of Otitoju has been barred from removing the body of her late boyfriend by a ruling made by Mr Justice Roth.

Otitoju’ daughter asked Roth to impose an injunction that would prevent Benedicta from going ahead with a planned funeral for Peter. The application was ruled in the daughter’s favour and Adekemi Otitoju will now ‘take possession’ of her father’s body and make the necessary arrangements.


Eleanor Stenson, Partner comments on this case;

‘This case (although described by the judge as ‘unusual’) is an example of a situation that we see all too frequently. Making decisions on funeral arrangements is the responsibility of his executors (as named in a will if the deceased made one) or someone who is entitled to take a Grant in an intestacy. The order of priority in the latter case extends to spouses and biological relatives. An unmarried partner cannot make those decisions where not appointed as executor, which can be heartbreaking where they are likely to be the one who knew the deceased’s wishes best.

We will often see unmarried partners feeling pushed out and their feelings disregarded by family members which can have a devastating impact. Because disposal of the body happens relatively quickly after death, having conflict around the time of the funeral can be deeply upsetting and cause long term conflict that could create problems down the line.