Whishaw v Stephens (on appeal from In re Gulbenkian’s Settlement) (No 1): HL 31 Oct 1968

Parties disputed the effect of clauses describing the beneficiaries of a trust.
Held: The clause did not make sense as it stood. In a fixed non-charitable trust (as opposed to a discretionary trust) the court must be able to draw up a list of beneficiaries before a trust can be recognised. The modern approach of a court is not to reject any part of a legal document as meaningless without first trying hard to give it a sensible meaning.


Lord Upjohn, Lord Reid, Lord Hodson, Lord Guest, Lord Donovan


[1970] AC 508, [1968] UKHL 5




England and Wales


CitedGisborne v Gisborne HL 1877
An absolute owner of property can settle his affairs in such a way and on such terms as would relieve his trustees from the responsibility to exercise the degrees of care and prudence which would otherwise be inferred. When a power has been . .

Cited by:

CitedHunt and Another v McLaren and others ChD 4-Oct-2006
Land had been given to a football club under a trust for its exclusive use as such. That land was sold and a new ground acquired and a stadium built, but the land was subject to restrictive covenenats limiting its use to sports, which considerably . .
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. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Litigation Practice, Trusts

Updated: 27 June 2022; Ref: scu.220238