Clayton v Ramsden: HL 1943

A condition in the will was that the legatee, his daughter, should not marry a person ‘not of Jewish parentage and of the Jewish faith.’
Held: The condition was void for uncertainty. Lord Russell of Killowen said: ‘The courts have always insisted that conditions of defeasance, in order to be valid, should be so framed that the persons affected (or the court if they seek its guidance) can from the outset know with certainty the exact event on the happening of which their interests are to be divested.’
. . And ‘Must both parents be of the Jewish race, or would one alone, and which, suffice? I confess myself unable to find any context which provides an answer; but the answer may well be that, in the absence of a context to the contrary, the true construction is that both parents must be of the Jewish race. But at this point the real difficulty begins, viz., the question of degree. The testator has given no information or clue as to what percentage or proportion of Jewish blood in the husband will satisfy the requirement that he should be of Jewish parentage. The daughter could never, before marrying the man of her choice, be certain that he came up to the requisite standard of Jewish parentage, nor could a court enlighten her beforehand. The standard is unknown, and incapable of ascertainment. It is this uncertainty of degree which prevents the divesting event from being seen precisely and distinctly from the beginning, and which makes this condition void for uncertainty. The uncertainty attaching to the requirement of Jewis parentage avoids the whole condition subsequent, with the result that no defeasance takes place.’
Lord Russell of Killowen
[1943] AC 320, 112 LJCh 22, [1943] 1 All ER 16
England and Wales
CitedClavering v Ellison 1859
Any provision determining or divesting an estate held on trust ‘must be such that the Court can see from the beginning, precisely and distinctly, upon the happening of what event it was that the preceding vested estate was to determine’ . .

Cited by:
CitedFraser and Another v Canterbury Diocesan Board of Finance and others HL 27-Oct-2005
Land had been acquired by a deed under the 1841 Act, but had in 1995 ceased to be used as a school ‘for the education of children and adults of the labouring manufacturing and other poorer classes . . And for no other purpose ‘. Under the Act, the . .
CitedRe Tuck’s Settlement Trusts CA 1-Nov-1977
By his will, Sir Adolph Tuck sought to ensure that his successors should be Jewish, and stated that the arbitrators of this must be the Chief Rabbi of his community. . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 20 March 2021; Ref: scu.231642