Jersey's Royal Court has ruled that a house and land in St Helier which were left in a will to a UK body with charitable status (the "Charity") which could not take ownership of them could pass to a company set up to hold property on its behalf.

The will that gave rise to the case left the properties to the Charity, which was not capable of holding Jersey property, rather than to the UK company set up to hold property on its behalf, and which already owned Jersey property on that basis.

The UK company applied to the Royal Court to make a declaration that would enable it to take ownership of the property, as had been provided for in a previous will by the deceased, named in the judgment only as Mr D.

Evidence was heard which established that the intention of Mr D was that the Charity should benefit from his will. The Royal Court agreed – noting that the primary consideration was to give effect to the intentions of the deceased which should be ascertained from the language used in the will itself and the circumstances in which it was made – and made a declaration which implemented what had been accepted as reflecting Mr D's wishes.

Advocate Julie Melia, a partner at Ogier and head of the firm's Probate and Estates team, said that the decision showed welcome pragmatism.

"Although the will named the wrong beneficiary, the Royal Court felt able, with the assistance of the evidence that was produced, to take a pragmatic view and recognise the intentions of the deceased," she said.

"Jersey's law on the inheritance of immovable property is prescriptive, but the fact that the court was prepared to approach a question like this with the intentions of the deceased as a main consideration, is a source of comfort to anyone leaving a will."

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