All Oceans (Used to) Lead to London – Some still do

April 18, 2008 Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Once in a blue moon I find myself considering and marveling at the genius and breadth of the Common Law.  I am amazed by the Common Law’s ability to function effectively in what otherwise appear to be remarkably different parts of the world, particularly in the area of Estates and Trusts.

Of course, this phenomenon is a historical after-effect of the size and reach, particularly in the 17th to and 19th Centuries, of the British Empire.  Military history buffs will know this was largely attributable to the Royal Navy’s increasing dominance over the oceans of the world.  During that time (and before), the Common Law spread from the relatively tiny islands of the UK to vast and diverse areas: from India, Hong Kong, parts of Africa and Singapore to tiny island states in the Caribbean such as Barbados, the list goes on and on.

No doubt Estate Law has its local variants in each location, but I am more often than not struck by the similarities.  The attached article about Wills and Probate in Hong Kong would not be much different in Ontario, and I expect most non-lawyers would be hard-pressed to spot the differences.  Here’s a website encouraging people to outsource legal services to India, including trust deeds, although to my mind that may exaggerate the cross-jurisdictional similarities of Estates law. It seems to me it would still be best to retain a local lawyer in whatever jurisdiction you’re dealing. For the truly exotic, review this website talking about how the governing Estate law in Singapore shifted from the Common Law to Islamic law.

With Canada’s direct reliance on British jurisprudence lasting until 1949 when final appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council were ended, we certainly have played our role in this pattern and continue to do so.

Thanks for reading.

Sean Graham

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