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One of the family: Re Erskine Trust

Adopted sons win right to be considered next of kin in High Court’s decision in Re Erskine Trust, reports Joseph Goldsmith

11 June 2012

In Re Erskine Trust (Re Erskine Trust, Gregg v Pigott [2012] EWHC 732 (Ch)), Mr Mark Herbert QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, was faced with a novel question. How does the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) operate to affect private law rights under an instrument entered into not only before the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) came into force, but even before the ECHR itself was agreed by the Council of Europe in 1950?

The conclusion that he reached may make it difficult in some circumstances to advise with certainty in relation to trusts for a person’s statutory next of kin.

Fact file

The basic facts were not in dispute. Mr Erskine had made a settlement in 1948 under the terms of which the trust fund was held for his daughter, Lucile Saich, for life. Mrs Saich died a widow on ?11 August...

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