29 Eng. Rep. 1186 (1787).

A classic case on the Rule against Perpetuities which exemplifies the traditional harsh and inflexible application of that Rule.  In many law school casebooks, Jee v. Audley is the first case on the Rule against Perpetuities.

Summary of Facts:

The testator bequeathed £1000 to Mary Hall, and if Mary Hall dies without issue, to the daughters then living of John and Elizabeth Jee. There were, at the testator’s death, four daughters of John and Elizabeth Jee living. Mary Hall claimed the interest in the Jee daughters violated the Rule against Perpetuities and was void.

Holding:

The court held the gift to the Jee daughters void because there were no lives in being that could validate the gift and, therefore, the contingent executory interest was held invalid under the Rule against Perpetuities.

Although the Jees were aged persons, ‘daughters’ was construed by the court to include daughters born after the testator’s death, and if invalid with respect to an unborn daughter, the gift was invalid with respect to all—the ‘all-or-nothing’ or unit rule on class gifts was applied.  Because the testator used the word ‘daughters’ to describe the beneficiaries of the contingent executory interest, as a matter of construction of the will the gift could have been limited to daughters of the Jees known to the testator; that is to say, lives in being at the execution of the will, some or all of whom were alive at the testator’s death when the will took effect. If confined to such daughters, the gift would have been valid under the Rule because the contingencies would have been resolved, favorably or unfavorably, within the lifetime of each daughter.

In rejecting the claim that seventy year-old John and Elizabeth Jee could be presumed not to be capable of further offspring, the court noted that if such a presumption could be made “in one case it may in another, and it is a very dangerous experiment, and introductive of the greatest inconvenience to give a latitude to such sort of conjecture.”

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