Sammut and others v Manzi and others: PC 4 Dec 2008

(the Bahamas) The court was asked to construe a will.
Lord Phillips said: ‘The starting point when construing any will is to attempt to deduce the intention of the testator by giving the words of the will the meaning that they naturally bear, having regard to the contents of the will as a whole. Sometimes it is legitimate to have regard to extrinsic evidence in order to show that words used had a special meaning to the testator, but it has not been suggested that this is such a case.
Extrinsic evidence of the testator’s intention may also be admissible to resolve uncertainty or ambiguity . .
There were placed before their Lordships no less than 17 decided cases, some of which involved decisions on wording that bore some similarity with that used in the present case. Little assistance in construing a will is likely to be gained by consideration of how other judges have interpreted similar wording in other cases. Counsel rightly recognised that the starting point must be to look at the natural meaning of the wording of the will to be construed without reference to other decisions or to prima facie principles of construction.’
Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell
[2008] UKPC 58, [2009] 1 WLR 1834, [2009] 2 All ER 234
Bailii
Commonwealth
Cited by:
CitedJump and Another v Lister and Another ChD 12-Aug-2016
Omnibus Survivorship Clauses
Wills for two people hade been drafted with survivorship clauses which provided for others according to the order in which they died, but in the event, having died together it had been impossible to say which died first. The parties disputed the . .

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Updated: 11 February 2021; Ref: scu.279093