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In the case of Re Lysaght (dec’d) [1966] Ch 191, the Chancery Division of the High Court of England and Wales had to decide a rather interesting question.

Ms Lysaght, in her will, bequethed a large sum of money to the Royal College of Surgeons to be held on trust for British -born students “not of Jewish or Roman Catholic faith”. The College, for some odd reason, refused the gift unless that condition was removed.

Justice Buckley, as he then was, held that the College’s intransigence on this minor point was an impracticality which could not be supervened. And it was a terrible shame to defeat Ms Lysaght’s obvious general charitable intention, so a cy pres scheme was instituted. Since the original charitable purpose of a Jew-free scholarship to the Royal College of Surgeons was impractical, the Court allowed it for another charitable purpose, for example, a scholarship to the Royal College of Surgeons.

Jolly good.

I think the best part of this judgment is when Buckley J strenuously argues that it is not contrary to public policy to discriminate against Jews and Catholics (which would render it a non-charitable trust and thus not eligible for cy-pres). He does say that it is “widely regarded as deplorable” and later on as “undesirable” and “unamiable”.

He is also at pains to stress that Ms Lysaght, Heaven rest her soul, is not a bigot. She took great care in writing out the detail of her will – how it should be administered by the Royal College, which lesser religions ought to be excluded, etc etc. It was just a minor administrative detail, which no one really cares about. haha

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is not liable for those who read anonymous blogs with no credentials or legal qualifications and take it as legal fact or use it for the purposes of legal advice.

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2 Comments

  1. Lol. I don’t know why students complain about equity. The facts of the cases alone make it worth studying.

  2. I am also very much enamoured by Phillips v Roberts (the woman who wanted to found her own religion), Church of New Faith (whether Scientology is a bona fide religion – the HCA held it was a religion; whether it is a bona fide religion remains for the people to decide), Joyce v Ashfield (whether the Exclusive Brethren’s exclusivity disentitles them from benefitting the community) and National Anti-Vivisection.


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