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Portal:Law of England and Wales

Introduction

English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures.

Selected article

The cy-près doctrine in English law is an element of trusts law dealing with charitable trusts. The doctrine provides that when such a trust has failed because its purposes are either impossible or cannot be fulfilled, the High Court of Justice or Charity Commission can make an order redirecting the trust's funds to the nearest possible purpose. For charities worth under £5,000 and no land, the trustees (by a two-thirds majority) may make the decision to redirect the trust's funds. The doctrine was initially an element of ecclesiastical law, coming from the Norman French cy près comme possible (as close as possible), but similar and possibly ancestral provisions have been found in Roman law, both in the Corpus Juris Civilis and later Byzantine law. Trusts where the doctrine is applicable are divided into two groups; those with subsequent failure, where the trust's purpose has failed after it came into operation, and initial failure, where the trust's purposes are immediately invalid. Subsequent failure cases simply require the redirection of the funds to the nearest possible purpose, since there is no question of allowing the settlor's next of kin to inherit the money. Initial failure cases, however, require not just a decision on whether the purpose has failed, but also on whether the funds should be subject to cy-près or returned to the estate in a resulting trust. This is decided based on the charitable intention of the settlor, something determined on the facts of each individual case. (more...)

Selected biography

Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon
Lloyd Kenyon, 1st Baron Kenyon (1732–1802) was a British politician and barrister, who served as Attorney General, Master of the Rolls and Lord Chief Justice. Rather than going to university he instead worked as a clerk to an attorney, joining the Middle Temple in 1750 and being called to the Bar in 1756. His business increased thanks to his friendships with John Dunning, who, overwhelmed with cases, allowed Kenyon to work many, and Lord Thurlow who secured for him the Chief Justiceship of Chester in 1780. He was returned as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hindon the same year, serving repeatedly as Attorney General under William Pitt the Younger. On 27 March 1784 he was appointed Master of the Rolls, a job he dedicated himself to once he ceased to act as an MP. Although unfamiliar with Roman law, he was highly efficient; Lord Eldon said "I am mistaken if, after I am gone, the Chancery Records do not prove that if I have decided more than any of my predecessors in the same period of time, Sir Lloyd Kenyon beat us all". On 9 June 1788, Kenyon succeeded Lord Mansfield as Lord Chief Justice, and was granted a barony. He remained Lord Chief Justice until his death in 1802. (more...)

Selected case

R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) was a case of the House of Lords concerning the removal of the Chagos Islanders and the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. The Chagos Islands, acquired by the United Kingdom in 1814, were reorganised as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in 1965 for the purpose of removing its inhabitants. Under a 1971 Order-in-Council, the Chagossians were forcibly removed, and the central island of Diego Garcia leased to the United States for use as a military outpost. In 2000, Olivier Bancoult successfully brought a judicial review claim against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for the initial ordinance which led to the Chagossian removal. In response, Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, repealed the 1971 Order-in-Council and announced he would not appeal against the decision, allowing the Chagossians to return home. In 2004, a second Order-in-Council was produced, again reinstating the off-limits nature of the Chagos Islands. Bancoult brought a second case, arguing that this Order was again ultra vires and unreasonable, and that Cook had violated legitimate expectation by passing the second Order after giving the impression that the Chagossians were free to return home. On 22 October 2008, the Lords decided by a 3-2 majority to uphold the new Order-in-Council, stating that it was valid and, although judicial review actions could look at Orders-in-Council, the national security and foreign relations issues in the case barred them from doing so. (more...)

Selected image

Frederic William Maitland (1850–1906), Cambridge professor and leading legal historian
Credit: Beatrice Lock
Frederic William Maitland (1850–1906), Cambridge professor and leading legal historian

Selected legislation

The Trustee Act 2000 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that regulates the duties of trustees in English trust law. Reform in these areas had been advised as early as 1982, and finally came about through the Trustee Bill 2000, based on the Law Commission's 1999 report "Trustees' Powers and Duties", which was introduced to the House of Lords in January 2000. The bill received the Royal Assent on 23 November 2000 and came into force on 1 February 2001 through the Trustee Act 2000 (Commencement) Order 2001, a Statutory Instrument, with the Act having effect over England and Wales. The Act (which is still in force) covers five areas of trust law: the duty of care imposed upon trustees, trustees' power of investment, the power to appoint nominees and agents, the power to acquire land, and the power to receive remuneration for work done as a trustee. It sets a new duty of care, both objective and standard, massively extends the trustees' power of investment and limits the trustees' liability for the actions of agents, also providing for their remuneration for work done in the course of the trust. (more...)

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From Wikipedia's "Did You Know" archives:

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Edward Coke, 17th-century Lord Chief Justice

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