What is a ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order?

There has been a lot of talk about so called ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ orders, but what is a ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order?’

What is a ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order?’ A ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order (technically known as a Cobden-Ramsay order) is a court order forcing someone who is challenging the distribution of an estate to either commence their legal action or drop the claim. It is used where there is delay in bringing a claim, thereby preventing the executors from finalising the administration of the estate.

In simple terms it’s a court order that says, either ‘put up’ (and issue your claim) or ‘shut up’ (and drop your claim).

‘Put Up or Shut Up’ orders are popular among executors who have received notice of a claim from a disgruntled beneficiary (or someone who thinks they should be a beneficiary) who fails to progress their legal challenge. The difficulty for executors in this situation is that if they wait for the claimant they will leave themselves open to criticism for delay in winding up the estate. However, if they ignore the challenge and distribute the estate they can be held personally liable if a successful claim is then made. Executors are therefore between a rock and a hard place.

By applying to the court for a ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order executors can overcome this dilemma. It places the decision in the hands of the court and absolves the executor of any personal liability.

However, ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ orders should be used with care. Because the court is taking action that might result in someone being forced to drop their legal claim, judges are cautious about granting them. In one case that recently came before the court the judge refused the executors’ application after the claimant complained she had not been given a copy of all the relevant documents.

Accordingly we would always encourage any executor who is contemplating a ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order to make sure that they have adequately addressed any queries or requests for information the claimant has reasonably made, and to take into account how meritorious their claim is.

So, if you are an executor and have been wondering, “What is a ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order?” then contact us for expert guidance. Call our free legal helpline on 0333 888 0407 or email us at [email protected]


What is a ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ order?