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Decoding Judgements: Trusts and Testamentary Provisions in Saunders v Vautier

8 December 2023 | CaseSnappy Team

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Welcome once again to the "Decoding Judgements" series from CaseSnappy, your journey through the fascinating labyrinth of UK legal judgements. We're back from our short break and today, we dive into an intriguing trusts law case: Saunders v Vautier [1841]. The case addresses key themes such as vested interest, the age of majority and beneficiary rights. Let's decode this landmark judgement together.

Testamentary Bequest and Trusts: The Case Facts

In this case, trustees were left with East India stock with instructions to accumulate dividends until the beneficiary, Daniel Wright Vautier, reached 25. Upon the testator's death, the trustees invested the dividends but did not transfer the stock. A court petition was filed when Vautier reached 21, demanding the stock transfer.

Trustee or Not To Be: The Legal Issues

The case centred around whether Vautier had a vested interest in the East India stock and the accumulated dividends prior to turning 25. This sparked heated arguments with Vautier's party asserting that the separation of the fund showed an immediate and absolute gift.

Unwrapping The Trust: The Decision

The court ruled in favour of Vautier, establishing that he had a vested interest in the stock as it was set aside solely for his benefit. The court dismissed the petition for rehearing and ordered the stock transferred to Vautier upon him turning 21.

A key passage from the judgement delivered by the Lord Chancellor clarifies this: 'There is an immediate gift of the East India stock; it is to be separated from the estate and vested in trustees; and the question is whether the great-nephew is not the cestui que trust of that stock. It is immaterial that these trustees are also executors...'

CaseSnappy: Decoding The Legal Enigma

Saunders v Vautier unravels the complexities surrounding trust law and beneficiary rights, giving readers an insight into the principle of vested interest. Through CaseSnappy's 'Decoding Judgements' series, we strive to elucidate complex legal judgements for students, professionals, and law enthusiasts, making UK law more accessible.

Stay tuned for our next instalment in the 'Decoding Judgements' series. Sign up to CaseSnappy for free today and generate summaries of cases yourself on-demand!

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