Jump v Lister | Seminar

  • Topic: Literal construction of Will
  • Date: 13 January 2017
  • Time: 12:45 to 14:00
  • Venue: 16 Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7EG

Edward Hewitt of 5 Stone Buildings appeared for the Defendants, the draftsman and his firm, in an application for construction of Mrs Winston's Will.  All parties accepted that Mrs Winston had not intended a survivorship clause to take effect as drafted but the Judge felt compelled to uphold the literal, unintentional, effect of the words.

Mr and Mrs Winston had been found dead at home.  It is not known who passed away first.  Mrs Winston, being the elder, was therefore deemed to have died first.

Both Wills mirrored the other.  Each spouse left their entire estate to the survivor, and then on the second death to their two nieces.  Both left pecuniary legacies totalling £214,500 intended to be paid once on the death of the survivor.  Because Mr Winston was deemed to have survived, the pecuniary legacies were payable from his estate.  However, Mrs Winston's Will contained a survivorship clause directing that anyone who died within 28 days of her should be deemed to have predeceased.  Thus, for the purposes of Mrs Winston's Will, Mr Winston was deemed to have predeceased and so the pecuniary legacies were also payable under her Will (as well as being payable under Mr Winston's Will). 

Rather oddly, the nieces argued in favour of the literal construction, notwithstanding that they lost out by virtue of a duplication of the legacies.  It was left to the draftsman and his firm to put the case for restricting the pecuniary legatees to one lot of legacies only.

Mr Hewitt will discuss the background to the case and the reasoning as well as its implications for draftsmen and for disappointed beneficiaries.

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