Re Erskine 1948 Trust: ChD 29 Mar 2012

The trust was created in 1948, and provided gifts over, which had now failed. The court considered the construction of the term ‘stautory next of kin’. The possible beneficiaries claimed through being adopted, arguing that at the date of the last beneficary’s death, all impediments to inheritance by adopted children had been removed by statute.
Held: The assorted Adoption Acts were limited so as to exclude any effect on the situation. But for the Human Rights issue, the clause would be interpreted on the basis of the law as at the date of the settlement, and: ‘the ECtHR has an emphatic aversion to discrimination against illegitimate and adopted children. But in the context of the present case this aversion is not easy to apply directly. In the first place the Convention became part of English law only in 2000. The question of retrospectivity therefore arises : how does the Convention affect the construction of a definition enacted almost 75 years before the Convention became part of English law? Second, even if the Convention affects the construction of a statute, to what extent does it affect the construction of a private-law disposition which incorporates a statutory definition? ‘ Though the ECHR had recognised such a right as legitimate in individual cases, those case concerned provisions by statute, not those by individuals.
By 1948 the legal framework for adoption had been established by the 1926 Act, and section 5 expressly enacted that adoption had no effect to confer inheritance rights on adopted children unless a contrary intention appears. That was the state of English law when the settlement came to be made in 1948. Seeing that there was no express contrary provision in that settlement, it follows that the use of the defined phrase ‘statutory next of kin’ did not include adopted children.
Mr Mark Herbert QC
[2012] EWHC 732 (Ch), [2012] 3 All ER 532, [2012] 3 FCR 114, [2012] WTLR 953, [2013] Ch 135, [2012] Fam Law 809, 14 ITELR 890, [2012] WLR(D) 104, [2012] 3 WLR 913, [2012] 2 FLR 725
Adoption of Children Act 1926 5, Adoption Act 1950, Adoption Act 1976, Administration of Estates Act 1925 46(1)(v) 50(1), Interpretation Act 1978 20(2), European Convention on Human Rights, Human Rights Act 1998
England and Wales
CitedIn re Hooper’s Settlement, Phillips v Lake CA 1943
A 1912 settlement created a trust ‘for such person or persons as would have become entitled to the settled fund under the statutes for the distribution of the personal estate of intestates at the death of the settlor had he died possessed thereof . .
CitedIn re Gansloser’s Will Trusts CA 1952
A 1929 will created a trust in favour of the testator’s widow’s ‘relatives’.
Held: The term referred to the persons who would have taken under the pre-1926 statutes of distribution. Evershed MR set out the normal principle, that the . .
CitedFalkiner and Another v The Commissioner of Stamp Duties PC 7-Nov-1972
New South Wales – The settlor had made a settlement on 4 October 1961 and died 11 days later. The ultimate trust was in favour of ‘the next of kin of the settlor as determined by the provisions now in force of the Wills, Probate and Administration . .
CitedIn re Bourke’s Will Trusts ChD 1980
The 1938 will of a testator was at issue. He died in 1943. The trusts included a life interest for the testator’s widow and, on her death without issue (which happened in 1971), residue was given to the testator’s three half-siblings ‘or their heirs . .
CitedPla and Puncernau v Andorra ECHR 13-Jul-2004
A will made by a widow in 1939, left certain property to her son Francesc-Xavier, as tenant for life, with a stipulation that he was to leave this inheritance to a son or grandson of a lawful and canonical marriage, failing which the estate was to . .
CitedUpton v United Kingdom ECHR 11-Apr-2006
Admissibility – the claimant said that he had been disinherited from his grandfather’s will, being illegitimate. The will made in 1930 was in favour of the testator’s children and grandchildren. The applicant’s father was the testator’s eldest son, . .
CitedBrauer v Germany ECHR 28-Jan-2010
Just satisfaction – friendly settlement . .
CitedSecretary of State for Social Security v Tunnicliffe CA 1991
Staughton LJ considered the interpretation of an Act of Parliament to give it retrospective powers: ‘In my judgment the true principle is that Parliament is presumed not to have intended to alter the law applicable to past events and transactions in . .
CitedWilson v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Wilson v First County Trust Ltd (No 2) HL 10-Jul-2003
The respondent appealed against a finding that the provision which made a loan agreement completely invalid for lack of compliance with the 1974 Act was itself invalid under the Human Rights Act since it deprived the respondent of its property . .
CitedBrauer v Germany ECHR 28-May-2009
The applicant was born outside marriage in 1948 in East Germany and claimed a share of the estate of her father, who had lived in West Germany dying in 1998. A West German statute of 1969 put illegitimate children on a equality with children of a . .
CitedTailby v Official Receiver HL 1888
A creditor can create, for good consideration an equitable charge over book debts which will attach to them as soon as they come into existence.
Lord Macnaghten said: ‘It was admitted by the learned counsel for the respondent, that a trader . .
CitedIn re Ellenborough, Towry Law v Burne ChD 1903
The court declined to give effect to a voluntary disposition of a mere expectancy. Buckley J said: ‘It cannot be and is not disputed that if the deed had been for value the trustees could have enforced it. If value be given, it is immaterial what is . .
CitedUpton v United Kingdom ECHR 11-Apr-2006
Admissibility – the claimant said that he had been disinherited from his grandfather’s will, being illegitimate. The will made in 1930 was in favour of the testator’s children and grandchildren. The applicant’s father was the testator’s eldest son, . .

Cited by:
CitedHand and Another v George ChD 17-Mar-2017
Adopted grandchildren entitled to succession
The court was asked whether the adopted children whose adopting father, the son of the testator, were grandchildren of the testator for the purposes of his will.
Held: The claim succeeded. The defendants, the other beneficiaries were not . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 23 April 2021; Ref: scu.466372