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The High Court’s decision in Re Erskine Trust suggests it may be compulsory to apply the ECHR retrospectively

21 May 2012

The recent case of Re Erskine Trust, Gregg & Anor v Piggott & Ors [2012] EWHC 732 (Ch), [2012] All ER (D) 03 (Apr) raises some interesting issues around inheritance for adopted children.

The High Court has in effect allowed the retrospective application of the European Convention, and in particular article 8 – the right to family life, and article 14 – the prohibition of discrimination, to a 1948 settlement. The result means that ‘statutory next of kin’ can include the adopted children of the initial beneficiary’s sister, rather than bypassing them to entitle cousins, and that this can be applied notwithstanding the fact the various Adoption Act/Children’s Act legislation didn’t begin to appear until the 1950s.

Research methods

However, the decision does raise issues for genealogists, as well as anyone working...

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