The battle between sisters over the sale of their father’s home – left to them in his estate – after one of the five lived in it rent free for nine years has finally been resolved in the Western Cape High Court.

According to a Sunday Times report, the R11.2m house in Camps Bay, built by Dennis Bagnall in 1970, was the subject of a lengthy legal battle, the costs of which have diminished the sisters’ inheritance.

Joint executor of the estate with her siblings, Shelley van Acker did everything possible to prevent it being sold so her sisters could enjoy their inheritance, the court said.

Now, after an order removing her as an executor, the other four sisters – Andrea Bagnall, Yvette Endean, Deborah Louw and Ashleigh Bagnall – can go ahead with the sale.

But legal fees from their long-running fight with Van Acker mean they will be left with only a fraction of its value.

The protracted legal battle culminated in a High Court judgment that traced the origins of the rift between the sisters to 2010 – and the subsequent events – when Van Acker, her son and his girlfriend moved in with Bagnall.

Van Acker said she wanted to take care of her elderly and ailing father.

Since then, Van Acker has lived rent-free in the upmarket home, except for 13 months in 2014 and 2015 ‘when she paid a non-market-related rental and during most of which time she also sublet to a tenant’, said the judgment.

According to the Sunday Times report, the judgment notes that in opposing the sale of the home, ‘the four sisters contend she acted in defiance of the deceased's will, in which he had enjoined his daughters “to consult and co-operate with each other to the fullest extent” ... and in the event they were unable to do so, the decision of the majority was to prevail’.

‘The four sisters were of the view that, given her obstructive conduct, it was clear that for as long as Van Acker continued in office as a co-executrix, the finalisation of the winding-up of the estate would be held up indefinitely,’ said Judge Robert Henney.

Van Acker's lawyer, Sandie MacDonald, said her client ‘intends taking the judgment on appeal to the SCA’.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)

Judgment