Lort-Williams v Lort-Williams: CA 1951

two individuals had taken out a single premium insurance policy on the life of Sir John Rolleston Lort-Williams. The benefits were payable to these trustees as ‘moneys payable under this policy, effected for the benefit of the widow or children or any of them of the assured in such shares and proportions and interest, and generally in such manner as the assured shall by will or deed revocable or irrevocable appoint or have so appointed’. The policy was for the benefit ‘of the widow . . ‘ of the assured in such amounts as he should decide by will or deed.
Held: Sommervell L.J. said: ‘Counsel for the husband admits that the words of s. 25 of the Act of 1950 have been given a wide meaning, but he relies that the interest of the wife was contingent in that (i) she has to survive the husband (ii) she has to survive him as his widow, and (iii) if there were children (the position might be obscure if there were not), she might take no interest at all if he appointed the whole fund to the children. I do not think that is sufficient to take the policy out of the meaning of ‘settlement’ in this section.’
Denning LJ said: ‘The word ‘settlement’ in s. 25 . . is not used in the conveyancing sense. It includes any provision made by a husband for the future benefit of his wife, if it proceeds on the footing of the then existing marriage. It does not cease to be a settlement on her because the provision is, not absolute, but only contingent, nor does it cease to be a settlement on her because it may in its terms also be applicable for the benefit of a wife by a subsequent marriage.’


Somervell LJ, Denning LJ


[1951] P 395, [1951] 2 All ER 241


Matrimonial Causes Act 1950 2


England and Wales

Cited by:

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CitedBrooks v Brooks HL 29-Jun-1995
A director’s pension scheme could be treated as a post-nuptial marriage settlement where the director was the only scheme member. It was thus a matrimonial asset capable of variation by a court in ancillary relief proceedings in a divorce. The court . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Family, Insurance, Trusts

Updated: 26 March 2022; Ref: scu.652158