Page images

nary manner, and in the presence of, and attested by, two or more witnesses, shall in all cases be a suflicient execution of any power of appointment not testamentary.

Our readers, being familiar with “Sugden on Powers,” will see at once that this section sweeps away, for the future, a variety of questions which formerly gave rise to considerable litigation, and of which some are even yet undecided. It seems, however, that questions are not unlikely to arise hereafter, as to what is to be considered the ordinary mode of executing and attesting deeds; for instance there may, at the present time, be a difference of opinion, whether the attestation clause of deeds “ ordi

narily” expresses them to have been signed, and thus questions

analogous to those in Wright v. Wakeford (17 Ves. 454), and Doe v. Burdett (10 Cl. and F. 340), may arise under the new law. Moreover, the propriety of requiring the execution of a power to be witnessed and attested by two witnesses, has been much questioned. A burden is thereby imposed which modern practice has thrown off, and the most experienced conveyancers of the present day merely provide that a. power shall be executed by deed, or (in the case of a married woman) by a writing sealed and delivered, without requiring the attestation of even one witness.1 Practically, an appointment like any other deed is attested, but there is no ground in common-sense for requiring the attestation of a deed of appointment more than of any other deed.

The 13th section repeals a rule of law which wrought injustice in the case of Coc/cerell v. C/zolmeley (10 B. and C. 564), where a tenant for life, without impeachment of waste, received part of the purchase-money in respect of the timber on a sale under a power, and the power was held not to have been well executed. A similar case is not likely to occur again; but it is perhaps well that the recurrence of such a. grievous wrong should be made impossible. It is right that the purchaser should make good to the objects of the settlement the amount which they would have enjoyed had the settlor’s intention been properly carried out; and the present section does this, while it leaves the purchaser in the enjoyment of the land.

1 The best modern precedents in conveyancing follow this course. See the forms of powers of appointment in Davidson's Conv., vol. 1, and Bythewood and Jarman’s Conv., by Sweet, vol. ll. Mr. Pridcaux in his Precedents, and Mr. Shelford in his late edition of Crabb’s Conveyancing, have, however, adhered to the old practice of requiring two witnesses.

The effect of a charge of debts in a will where no express means exist of carrying it into effect, has given rise to considerable litigation, and some of the decisions on the subject have been criticised‘ with no little warmth. We think that it is a pity that the Legislature did not take this opportunity of setting at rest the controverted question with regard as well to past as to future instruments. This, however, has not been done; but a series of provisions has been enacted (secs. 14-18), giving statutory powers of sale, in certain cases, to trustees and executors under wills coming into operation after the passing of the Act. Thus, when under such a will, lands charged with debts, or the payment of a legacy or specific sum, are devised to trustees, these trustees have a. statutory power of sale over the whole estate, and if there be no devise to trustees, then the executors are invested with a like power. It must be remembered that the principles laid down by the Master of the Rolls in Robinson '0. Lowater (17 Bcav. 592), Wrigley v. Sykes (21 Beav. 337), and Storry 11. Walsh (27 L. J. ch. 338), are not directly affected by this statute; and therefore the powers which these and similar cases ascribed to executors will coexist along with those vested in them by these sections.

By the 16th section, any sale or mortgage under the act operates only on the estate and interest, whether legal or equitable, of the testator, and does not render it unnecessary to get in any outstanding subsisting legal estate. We are not aware that it has ever been supposed that the will of a testator, entitled in equity only, could give a power over the legal estate; and the case of Doe 11. Hughes (6 Exch. 223), seems to decide expressly that no power of sale over the legal estate can be ascribed by implication to executors, even when the testator

‘ See particularly an article by Mr. Joshua Williams, in The Jurist of the 16th February, 1856 ; reprinted in a separate form in the following year.

was entitled at law; but the power given by this Act to executors, affects all the estate and interest of the testator, whether it be legal or equitable.

The powerswe have been considering are given by sections 14, 15, and 16-. The operation of sec. M is, by the actual wording of the section itself, confined to cases where the charge is created “by any will coming into operation after the passing of this Act.” Section 15 applies only to the devolution of the powers given by the last section; and sec. 16 enacts, that where such a charge is created as is described in sec. 14, but there is no sufficient devise to trustees, the powers may be exercised by the executors of “ such will.” We should have thought that there could have been little doubt that “such will” meant such a will as is mentioned in sec. 14, namely, a will coming into operation after the passing ofthe Act; but, at any rate, the knotty point might have been easily settled by the addition of a few appropriate words. Another course, however, has been adopted ; and after sec. 17, which protects purchasers from the effects of an improper exercise of the powers, we find a section (18) which contains the following nonsense :—

“The provisions contained in sections 14, 15, and 16, shall not in any way prejudice or affect any sale or mortgage already made, or hereafter to be made, under, or in pursuance of any will coming in to operation before the passing of this Act ;1 but the validity of any such sale

or mortgage shall be ascertained and determined in all respects as if this Act had not passed.” (l)

[ocr errors]

Now, putting sec. 16 out of the question, how is it possible that secs. 14 and 15, which apply only to wills coming into operation after the passing of the Act, can affect sales, &c., under wills which came into operation before the passing of the Act ‘?

It would be a source of wonder had the profoundest and most experienced real property lawyer of the day committed this gross blunder ; but it is no source of wonder that it should have

‘ “ Coming into operation before the passing of this Act,” may be considered

as grarnmatically correct in l’arlia'.nent; elsewhere we should expect to find “ \VillOll shall have come into,” &c.

-been perpetrated in the House of Commons, where the above

quoted portion of section 18 was composed and foisted into the

Though Lord St. Leonards is responsible for the rest of sec-

tion 18, yet it is not happily worded. Secs. 14, 15, and 16, are

not to “ extend to a devise to any person or persons in fee or in tail, or for the testator’s whole estate and interest, charged with debts or legacies.” The meaning no doubt is, that the sections in question are not to confer powers of sale or mortgage on trustees or executors, where the charged lands are devised in fee‘, &e., to any person for his own benefit; but, in order to attach any meaning at all to the words, it must necessarily be held that trustees are not persons.

5. INIIERITANCE, (Secs. 19, 20.)—These sections are intended to prevent the recurrence of an injustice which, in one reported case (Doe v. Blackburn, 1 Moo. & R., 547), arose from the provision of the Inheritance Act of 1833, that descent should always be traced from the purchaser. It is clear that the heirs of the purchaser may have become extinct, although there may be persons claiming as heirs of the personlast entitled by descent. For example, in the case we have quoted, the purchaser was a foundling who died intestate, leaving an only child, a son, who also died intestate. There were no heirs of the foundling, but there were persons who could have claimed as heirs of the son, ea: parte maternd, if he had taken by purchase and not by descent. These persons would seem to have a right to the land, although before the recent change no such right was recognised by the law. It is said that, inasmuch sec. 20 enacts that sec. 19 “shall be read as part” of the Inheritance Act of 1833, and does not save present rights, the law of inheritance as now altered must be taken as having been the law since the lst of January, 1834; and, consequently, that persons in possession under the old law may be evicted unless they should happen to be protected by the Statute of Limitations. It would be a curious result of the

_present statute were Doc v. Blackburn tried over again; and ‘such a result is not impossible, if some person under disability,

[ocr errors]

and not the claimant in that case, was the heir of the son, ea: parte materndht

6. ASSIGNMENT or PERSONALTY, (See. 21.)--This section repeals the old common-law rule-that a person cannot assign personalty to himself and others : it endeavours to elfect for personal estate that which, through the medium of the Statute of Uses, can be effected in the case of freehold estates ; and, had the section been sufficient, it would in many cases have rendered two deeds unnecessary where the intention of the parties could be well expressed in one. But the section, it is said, is defective in not providing that the assignecs shall take as joint tenants, and cannot safely be acted on except to the extent that it may warrant a change in the ownership of equitable chases in action, usually assigned on the appointment of new trustees, such an assignment being a mere form, and of no consequence in any way, although it is generally introduced as a verbal compliance with the usual direction following the power to appoint new trustees.

7. Ponormsnns, (Secs. 22-24.)-These sections are intended to diminish the expense and risk attendant on the purchase of land. Sec. 22 requires that the registration of Crown debts should be renewed every five years ; a provision which was, through some slip, omitted from the statute 2 and 3 Vic., c. 11. By sec. 23, persons paying any purchase or mortgage money to a trustee or mortgagee, are to be discharged by his receipt; and, by see. 24, the fraudulent concealment of a material instrument or incumbranee, or falsification of pedigree by a vendor or mortgagor, or the solicitor of a vendor or mortgagor, is made a criminal offence.

The enactment with regard to the receipts of trustees might, with advantage, have been framed in a more comprehensive manner: it is confined to the payment of purchase or mortgage moncy,:and doubts have been entertained whether it extends to the payment by a devisee of portions and other sums charged upon the land devised to him, inasmuch as the term mortgage

1 The former verdict would be no bar to a fresh action. Broonfs Legal

Iltfaximx, 3rd Ed., 306.

« PreviousContinue »