Ilott v Mitson – Good news for charities?

Leticia Jennings, Partner, Bates Wells Braithwaite said:

Charity Legacies

“By unanimous decision in the long-running case of Ilott v Mitson, the Supreme Court has today overturned the Court of Appeal’s six-figure award in favour of an adult child out of a gift left to charity, and reinstated a much smaller sum awarded to her almost 10 years ago.

“Helpfully for charities, the Supreme Court has clarified that charities do not have to justify their position as beneficiaries, and that it is enough that a testator – exercising their testamentary freedom – chooses them. These comments are in stark contrast to the Court of Appeal’s comments in August 2015, that legacies to charities with which the deceased had no obvious connection should be seen as a “windfall”.

“Importantly, the Supreme Court recognised that charities rely heavily on gifts left to them by will and that family ties do not automatically take precedence over gifts left to charities. It has been the law for over 40 years and remains the case that family members can seek reasonable financial provision from a deceased’s estate, but the Supreme Court has today confirmed that the courts will only interfere with a person’s testamentary freedom in very particular circumstances.

“Charities, and those wishing to leave a gift to a charity in their will, should be comforted that the outcome of the case does not represent a blanket threat to charity legacies.”

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of March 15, 2017.