Dundee General Hospital Board of Management v Bell’s Trustees: HL 26 Mar 1952

The willl left a gift subject to the sole discretion of the trustees as to the ownership of the Hospital.
Held: A decision taken by trustees based upon a wrong interpretation of a deed could be set aside as avoided. Lord Normand said: ‘It cannot be said that it was extravagantly unreasonable to apply a retrospective provision in considering the position of the infirmary at any time within the retrospective period, for the effect of making a provision retrospective is the same as a statutory declaration that at any time within the retrospective period the provision should be deemed to have been in force. Nor do I think it extravagantly unreasonable to doubt whether a nexus affecting the entire property of the infirmary, and intended pro tanto to prevent the evasion of the expropriation sections of the Act, might not have placed the infirmary to some extent under the control of the State.’ . . And ‘ It cannot be said that it was extravagantly unreasonable to apply a retrospective provision in considering the position of the infirmary at any time within the retrospective period, for the effect of making a provision retrospective is the same as a statutory declaration that at any time within the retrospective period the provision should be deemed to have been in force. Nor do I think it extravagantly unreasonable to doubt whether a nexus affecting the entire property of the infirmary, and intended pro tanto to prevent the evasion of the expropriation sections of the Act, might not have placed the infirmary to some extent under the control of the State.’
Lord Normand
[1952] 1 All ER 896, [1952] UKHL 3
Bailii
Scotland
Cited by:
CitedSt Mary and St Michael Parish Advisory Company Ltd v The Westminster Roman Catholic Diocese Trustee, Her Majesty’s Attorney Genera and others ChD 6-Apr-2006
Parish members objected to the building within the church grounds of an education centre. They said that the land was to be used for the purposes of the members of the parish only under a trust deed of 1851.
Held: The deed had to be construed . .

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Updated: 30 January 2021; Ref: scu.242384