The Royal Court of Jersey was asked to decide whether a
revocation clause in a Will dealing exclusively with the
testator's assets in Zimbabwe revoked a previous Will dealing
with the testator's overseas estate.
The testator had died domiciled in Zimbabwe, with assets in
Zimbabwe and a number of bank accounts in Jersey. In 1989 the
testator had made a Will expressly dealing only with his assets
outside Zimbabwe ('the earlier Will'). Some years later, in
2010, he made a Will expressly dealing only with his assets in
Zimbabwe ('the later Will'). However the wording in the
revocation clause in the later Will was contradictory, in so far is
it did not make clear whether he intended to revoke all previous
'I (…) hereby declare this to be my last Will and
testament for my Zimbabwean estate only. I REVOKE all previous
testamentary dispositions made by me.'
The executor of the earlier Will applied to the Royal Court of
Jersey for directions on how to proceed. The Zimbabwean lawyer who
had drafted the later Will gave evidence that the testator had not
intended to revoke the earlier Will; the testator had been
expressly asked whether he intended to do so and had replied that
he did not.
The Court ruled that the later Will had not revoked the earlier
Will, as it was expressly limited to the testator's estate in
Zimbabwe, and it only disposed of the testator's estate in that
territory. Furthermore, the testator had been careful to make Wills
to deal with all parts of his estate, so it was unlikely that he
would intend a partial intestacy.
Having addressed the facts of the case, the court looked to the
issue of jurisdiction, and followed its own decision in the case of
Hawksford Executors Ltd (in which
Withers advised the successful charity beneficiaries). The Court
decided that it did have jurisdiction to hear the matter because
the intention of the testator was clear enough to leave no room for
doubt. It was evident from the face of the later Will that the
testator had not wished to revoke his earlier Will, which dealt
with a different part of his estate. Therefore, the Court was
content to make a finding as to the testator's intention on the
basis of construction, and recourse to private international law to
determine which system of law should decide the matter was not
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