Olivia Mead wins $25m in court battle over father's will

Amanda Banks Legal Affairs Editor and AAP

The love child of WA billionaire mining heir Michael Wright has been awarded $25 million from her late father's estate after winning a Supreme Court challenge against his will.

Master Craig Sanderson ruled this morning that there was inadequate provision in Mr Wright's will for his daughter Olivia Mead.

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The ruling follows a hearing earlier this month at which the 19-year-old student claimed she was entitled to a greater share of her father's fortune than the $3 million in trust, which was to be bequeathed when she turned 30.

Mr Wright, who died in 2012, was the son of mining magnate Peter Wright and owned Voyager Estate winery.

Mining heir and owner of Voyager Estate Winery, the late Michael Wright.

During the hearing at the start of this month, Ms Mead was quizzed on an extraordinary list of items she claimed should be provided for from his estate, including a $1.2 million crystal-encrusted grand piano, a $250,000 diamond-studded bass guitar, clothes, shoes, restaurant meals, holidays and bills for the next 77 years.

Master Sanderson said the lump sum would be conditional on Ms Mead relinquishing the award she has in trust, which was a complicated matter, and orders would be made at a later time.

Peter Wright and Lang Hancock partners in Hancock and Wright prospecting.

Master Sanderson noted the trust was worded in an "unwieldy" way and put Ms Mead's fate in the hands of executor David Lemon, who she had never met and had close ties with other family members.

That was unreasonable, he said.

The strangest aspect of the trust was a provision that "could operate in an entirely oppressive fashion".

"It is arguable if the plaintiff were convicted of a drink driving offence she could be excluded as a beneficiary," Master Sanderson said.

"The same is true if she were convicted of simple possession of marijuana. It may even be the case if she was suspected of involvement with someone who used an illicit substance she could be excluded."

Olivia Mead's mother Elizabeth leave's court. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Olivia Mead's mother Elizabeth leave's court. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

Master Sanderson said the most "egregious" of all the provisions was a clause that if the plaintiff converted to Buddhism, or perhaps Islam, she would be deemed an 'excluded person'.

"In fact it is arguable if she took a deep interest in, or was associated with persons who practiced these faiths, she would fall foul of the provision," he said.

"Most Australians would regard freedom of religion as part of their birthright.

"The plaintiff in order to be sure the trust would vest in her when she turned 30 would have to give up that basic human right.

"That is an extraordinary proposition."

Ms Mead's mother, Elizabeth, was in tears at the back of the court room and she and her daughter embraced lawyers after the decision.

Mr Wright's three other children, Leonie Baldock, Alexandra Burt and Myles Wright, were not at court for the decision.

Ms Mead and her family said nothing as they left the court.

More to come.