ross v ross

Click here to load reader

Post on 03-Jun-2018




0 download

Embed Size (px)


  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    Ross v. Ross

    Frank Ross, Appellant; and

    Annie Ross and others, Respondents.

    Annie Ross and another, Appellants; and

    Frank Ross and others, Respondents.

    (1894), 25 S.C.R. 307(1894), 25 R.C.S. 307

    Supreme Court of Canada

    1893: October 4, 5, 6 / 1894: March 3.

    Present: Sir Henry Strong C.J. and Fournier,Taschereau,

    Sedgewick and King JJ.


    Will, form of Holograph willexecuted abroad Quebec Civil Code, art.7 Locus regit actum Lex domicilii Lex rei sitae Trustees and executors Legacy in trust Discretion of trustee

    Vagueness or uncertainty as to beneficiaries Poor relatives Public Protestantcharities Charitable uses Right ofintervention Persona designata.

    In 1865 J.G.R., a merchant, then and atthe time of his death domiciled in the city ofQuebec, while temporarily in the city ofNew York made the following will inaccordance with the law relating toholograph wills in Lower Canada:

    "I hereby will and bequeath all myproperty, assets or means of any kind, to mybrother Frank, who will use one-half of themfor Public Protestant Charities in Quebecand Carluke, say the Protestant HospitalHome, French Canadian Mission, andamongst poor relatives as he may judge best,the other half to himself and for his own use,

    excepting 2,000 pounds, which he will sendto Miss Mary Frame, Overton Farm."

    A.R. and others, heirs at law of thetestator, brought action to have, the willdeclared invalid.

    Held, Taschereau J. dissenting, that thewill was valid.

    Held further, Fournier and TaschereauJJ. dissenting, that the rule locus regit actumwas not in the Province of Quebec, beforethe code, nor since under the code itself (art.7), imperative, but permissive only.

    Held also, Taschereau J. dissenting, thatthe will was valid even if the rule locus regit

    actum did apply, because it sufficientlyappeared from the evidence that by the lawof the State of New York the will would beconsidered good as to movables whereversituated, having been executed according tothe law of the testator's domicile, and goodas to immovables in the Province of Quebec,having been executed according to the lawof the situation of those immovables.

    In this action interventions were filed byMorrin College, an institution where youth

    are instructed in the higher branches oflearning, and especially young men intendedfox the ministry of the Presbyterian Churchin Canada, who are entitled to receive a freegeneral and theological education, and areassisted by scholarships and bursaries tocomplete their education; by the FinlayAsylum, a corporate institution for the reliefof the aged and infirm, belonging to thecommunion of the Church of England; andby W.R.R., a first cousin of the testatorclaiming as a poor relative.

    Held, that Morrin College did not comewithin the description of a charitableinstitution according to the ordinarymeaning of the words, and had therefore nolocus standi to intervene; Sedgewick J.dissenting; but that Finlay Asylum camewithin the terms of the will as one of thecharities which F.R. might select as a

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    beneficiary, and this gave it a right tointervene to support the will.

    Held further, that in the gift to "poorrelatives" the word "poor" was too vagueand uncertain to have any meaning attached

    to it, and must therefore be rejected, and theword "relatives"' should be construed asexcluding all except those whom the law, inthe case of an intestacy, recognized as theproper class among whom to divide theproperty of a deceased person, and W.R.R.not coming within that class his interventionshould be dismissed.

    Held, per Fournier and Taschereau JJ.,that the bequests to "poor relatives"absolutely null for uncertainty.

    APPEAL and CROSS-APPEAL from adecision of the Court of Queen's Bench forLower Canada (appeal side), Q.R. 2 Q.B.413, affirming the judgment of the SuperiorCourt by which the action to set aside thewill of the Hon. James Gibb Ross wasdismissed as to part of the claim andaffirmed as to the remainder.

    The will, which appears at length in thehead note, was wholly written and signed by

    the testator while temporarily in New Yorkin 1865, and was by him mailed from NewYork to Quebec, addressed to his brotherFrank; it was subsequently restored to thetestator, who on various occasionssubsequently at Quebec delivered it to Mr.F. Ross, the last occasion being in 1883, fiveyears before his death.

    The estate in the province of Quebecalone is sworn at about four millions. Thetestator further had large property, both real

    and personal, in other provinces of Canadaand in the United States.

    During the pendency of the suit WilliamRussell Ross, a first cousin and formerpartner of the testator, then in bad health andadvanced in life, in poor circumstances andwith a large family, applied for assistance,pleading the terms of the will, and upon

    being refused he presented a petition inintervention which was allowed, cause to thecontrary being shown by plaintiffs anddefendants.

    Subsequently further interventions were

    filed by Morrin College and Finlay Asylum,claiming to be public protestant charities andas such to be interested in supporting thevalidity of the will.

    Plaintiffs and defendants also opposedthese interventions, but the points takenwere decided against them by the SuperiorCourt.

    The plaintiffs contended that the willwas invalid because, being in holograph

    form, it was made in New York where willsmade in that. form are not in generalrecognized; and, further, that the trust deviseis void for uncertainty, and that thus the trusthalf should be apportioned amongst theheirs-at-law. Mr. Frank Ross answered thatthe will was in all respects valid, that underit he took the estate "subject to the truststherein stated," and that, by the law of NewYork, wills made by persons domiciledelsewhere are valid in that State, so far aspersonalty therein is concerned, if made in

    the form required by the law of the testator'sdomicile. To the interventions, the plaintiffsand the defendant, Frank Ross, pleadedsimilar defences - the defendant in additiondemurring.

    For pleas to the interventions plaintiffsset up:

    1. The will was bad in form as havingbeen made in New York.

    2. Under no circumstances is MorrinCollege - an institution under Presbyteriancontrol - entitled to anything.

    3. Under no circumstances is the FinlayAsylum - an institution under the control ofthe Church of England - entitled to anything.

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    4. Under no circumstances is WilliamRussell Ross entitled to anything, becauseMy. Frank Ross "has declared that in hisjudgment the said intervenant is not entitledto any part of the money so bequeathed asaforesaid."

    5. The firm, composed of W.R. Rossand testator, lost money, which factdisqualifies W. R. Ross from receivinganything under the will.

    6. The whole of the estate of the testatorhas been vested in Frank Ross by the will,and no separate trust has been created by thewill, and neither the intervenants nor anyother person have a right to interfere withFrank Ross in the matter of any bequest

    whatever, the whole will (except the bequestto Mary Frame) being entirely andabsolutely at his discretion, supposing thatthe will is valid as the intervenants pretend.

    The defendant Frank Ross contested theinterventions on the grounds following:

    1. That the whole estate and successionwas absolutely his own, and the bequests infavour of public protestant charities and ofpoor relations were void for vagueness and

    uncertainty, and conferred no right whateverin favour of any charity or relation.

    2. As Episcopalian and Presbyterianinstitutions, the Finlay Asylum and MorrinCollege have no claim under the will.

    3. At the time of the death of the testatorW.R. Ross was indebted to his estate in thesum of $116,279.30, for his share of a losingspeculation in 1872, and for a subsequentadvance of $40,000 made in 1885, and is

    consequently disqualified from taking underthe will.

    4. For the reasons stated, and denyingthat he is called upon to exercise anydiscretion, Frank Ross declared that underno circumstances will he ever give anythingto his cousin, W. R. Ross.

    McCarthy Q.C. and Stuart Q.C. for theappellant Frank Ross.

    The present appeal is from part of thejudgment of the Court of Queen's Bench forQuebec, confirming the judgment of the

    Superior Court, whereby the legality of thebequest in the will directing the appellant touse one-half of his estate for publicprotestant charities in Quebec and Carlukeand amongst poor relatives as should judgebest, was sustained.

    The evidence establishes that aholograph will is invalid according to thelaws of New York unless executed by thetestator in presence of two witnesses andattested by them; that nevertheless, a

    holograph will, executed in New York by aperson domiciled in Quebec, would be validin New York to pass personal property, butnot real estate, provided the will were validin Quebec. Sec. 2611 N.Y. Code ofProcedure.

    A testamentary bequest, to be valid,must be the expression of the will of thetestator; he cannot make a legacy dependupon the will of a third person, nor can heleave the choice of the legatee to a third

    person. Pothier, (Bugnet' ed.) vol. 8 Traitdes Donations entre-vifs no. 73; C.C. art.756; 7 Aubry & Rau, p. 69, ss. 655, 656;Toullier, vol. 5, nos 305, 351, 606; 3Zachariae (Mass & Verg), p. 34, note 8;18 Demolombe, nos. 608, 618; Re JeanMerendol, Merlin Repertoire vo. Lgatairesec. II, p. 425 Belgian edition; Merlin,Rpertoire vo. Institution d'Hritier, sec. 1, no. xviii, vol. 15, p. 367; de Sauvan Sarrieu, S.V. 57, 1, 182; Moeglin v.Willig, S.V. 52, 2, 435; Dtve & Dtve,

    S.V. 49, 2, 538; Laboujouderie v. Raffier,SS.V. 41, 2, 240; Legrand-Masse v.Hritiers Lpine, S.V. 27, 1, 408; Beurier v.Emorine, S.V. 60, 1, 346; Britelle v.Dyvrande, Dalloz Recueil, 70, 1, 202;Simon v. Simon, Journal du Palais, 1827, p.132.

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    Saving that if no discretionary powerhad been given the law would imply equaldistribution and the court would distributeequally, would be to assume the validity of abequest to charities unnamed and undefined,and to relatives undescribed. In Liddard v.

    Liddard, 28 Beav. 266, the question arose asto the distribution of property among thechildren of the deceased. In such a case ourlaw provides for equal distribution but asbetween relatives, some distant and someclose, the law gives to the nearer collateralrelations to the entire exclusion of thefurther.

    The Superior Court has not the powersof the courts in France, nor of the Parlementde Paris, and cannot overrule the express

    provisions of the statute 34 George 3, ch. 6,which while conferring upon the Courts ofKing's Bench, to which the Superior Courtsucceeded, the jurisdiction of the Prevt deParis, provided that nothing in the act shouldgrant the court legislative powers possessedby any court prior to the conquest. Stuart v.Bowman, 3 L.C.R. 309; McGibbon v.Abbott, 8 Legal News 267; Tilden v. Green,130 N.Y. 29; Levy v. Levy, 33 N.Y. 107.

    What shall be considered charities in

    England is settled by the statute 43 Elizabethc. 4.

    The doctrine of the English law, whichit is suggested. the court should follow inthis case, for the purpose of preventing thelegacy from lapsing in the event of theappellant not executing it, has been harshlycriticised and does not recommend itselfeither by its wisdom or its justice. Cary v.Abbot, 7 Ves. 490. See remarks by SirWilliam Grant in Morice v. The Bishop of

    Durham, 9 Ves. 399; 10 Ves. 537.

    The decisions in Contant v. Mercier, 20R.L. 379, 382, have no material bearingupon this discussion, as the question ofjurisdiction and power was never raised.

    The intervening parties should be notonly possible but certain beneficiaries, to

    justify their intervention. The old rule"l'intrt est la mesure des actions," ascontained in the Code of Procedure art. 13,applies. The decision in the Privy Council inMcGibbon v. Abbott, 10 App. Cas. 653,appears to support the view that where a

    person's rights are dependent upon theexercise of a legal discretion vested inanother, no right to defend the instrumentcreating the discretion accrues until after theexercise of the discretion has created a right.Isaac v. Defriez, 17 Ves. 373n; Attorney-General v. Price, 17 Ves. 371; Anon, 1 P.Wm. 327.

    As to the Morrin College, it is aneducational institution and in no sense acharity.

    The Finlay Asylum, though a charitableinstitution in the proper acceptation of theword, is not a public charity. By its Act ofIncorporation, 20 Vic. ch. 219, the FinlayAsylum is founded for the relief of personsof the communion of the Church of England,and the government of the institution isvested in the rector and church wardens ofthe parish church of Quebec.

    Geoffrion Q.C. and Lafleur for

    appellants, Annie Ross and John TheodoreRoss. The will in question was made beforethe coming in force of the Civil Code,and itsformal validity must be decided by the lawat the time of its execution. Dalloz, Rp."Dispositions entre-vifs et testamentaires",nos 3499, 2504 and 2507 and the authoritiesthere cited.

    None of the articles of the Code whichrefer to this subject purport to introduce newlaw. They express the law as it stood

    immediately before the passing of the Code,and for a long time anterior thereto.

    Article 7 of our Civil Code adopts in itsentirety the rule locus regit actum. This rulewas always considered is imperative, andnot merely facultative. Re Gilbert Andras,17 Guyot Rp. vo. Testament, 167-8; dePommereu, 7 Journal Audiences, 515;

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    Merlin, Rp. vol 17, p. 532-3; in re deBoisel, 7 Journal des Audiences, 689; in red'Argelos, 7 Journal des Audiences, 520.

    All decided in the Picqassary case,Journal des Audiences, vol. VII, p. 528, was

    that holograph wills were authorized by thecustom of Angoulme. See also, Bourjon,vol. II, p. 305; Ricard, Don. vol. I, p. 322,no. 1286.

    Article 999 C.N. really emphasizes therule by creating a special exception infavour of holograph wills made abroad byFrenchmen. Demolombe, vol. XXI, pp. 450-4, nos. 482-3; Marcad sur art. 999. Laurent,Principes, vol. XIII, p. 166, no. 159;Browning v. de Nayve, Dal. 53, 1, 217;

    Mends v. Brandon, Journal de Palais 1850,2, 187; Aubry & Rau, Vol. I, p. 112, par. 31.

    In England and Scotland, up to 24 & 25Vic. ch. 114, the rule was that validity of thewill depended on the law of the testator'slast domicile. By this act British subjects,only in so far as regards personal estate, mayadopt the forms recognized by the lex actus,or by the law of the domicile of origin.Dicey On Domicile, Pp. 298, 303.

    In the United States the rule recognizedis that of the testator's domicile. Story Con-fl. of Laws, par. 468.

    The rule of the law of New Yorkrequires conformity to the law of Quebec;and as the law of Quebec requires that theformalities of foreign law should be adoptedand followed the provisions of our law havenot been complied with, and the will isinvalid.

    The Marquis de Bonneval died in 1836,in London, where he had resided for aconsiderable period, and left a will executedin England in the English form dated 19thSeptember, 1814. The will was contestedand the question debated whether theMarquis de Bonneval was domiciled inEngland or in France. The court held that thetestator had never lost his French domicile

    of origin, notwithstanding his prolongedresidence in England, that the validity of thewill should be decided by the French law,and ordered a suspension of proceedingsuntil a decision should be obtained from theFrench courts. De Bonneval v. De Bonneval,

    Jour. du Palais 43, 1, 288; 1 Curt. 856.

    Both the Court of Appeal and the Courde Cassation held that as the testator hadfollowed the usual form required by theplace of execution (England), the will mustbe held valid.

    If the will in question is considered as awill in the English form it could not operatein regard to realty even in Quebec, inasmuchas it does not comply with the requirements

    of the Statute of Frauds. Meiklejohn v.Atty.-Gen., Stuart's L.C. Rep. 581; 2 Kn.328.

    Sec. 10 of the Quebec Act merelyintroduced a new form of will, and must beinterpreted as referring to wills made withinthe province. Endlich on Statutes, ss. 174,387; Migneault v. Malo, 16 L.C. Jur. 288;L.R. 4 P.C. 123.

    The French rule locus regit actum is part

    of our law, is an imperative rule, and wasconstantly and inflexibly applied by thehighest courts in old France, and is stillapplied by the Cour de Cassation in France,and cannot be characterized as unreasonableor inconvenient as compared with theEnglish rule in force when the Quebec Actwas passed, and down to the Imperial Act 24& 25 Vic. c. 114.

    The power of election given Frank Rossby the will is so absolute that he might,

    following McGibbon v. Abbott, 8 LegalNews 267, entirely exclude any one of theintervenants.

    The rule known as the cy prs doctrine,when the beneficiary can not be ascertained,has no place in our law, nor do the modernFrench decisions apply, Dalloz 46, 2, 155.To follow the case of Liddard v. Liddard, 28

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    Beav. 266, would be to violate the testatorsexpress intention. The legacy to charitiesand poor relations should be declared to bevoid for vagueness and uncertainty, andbecause, in the absence of the exercise byFrank Ross of the discretionary powers

    vested in him by the will, the courts of thisprovince could not enforce the execution ofthis bequest.

    The present appellants do not agree withFrank Ross as to the disposition whichshould be made of the fund representing thistrust in the event of the bequest being setaside. If the charitable bequest is void heirs-at-law are entitled to half the estate.Presumptive heirs of a man still livingwould not be permitted to take any

    proceedings, even conservatory, with respectto an estate in which they may never haveany real interest, and it is difficult to seewhy the present intervenants should be inany better position than presumptive heirs.

    With regard to William Russell Ross,such discretion as the trustee may have hasbeen exercised so as exclude him from allparticipation in the estate.

    As to Morrin College, under its charter,

    24 Vic. ch. 109, which provides in section 1that all the property belonging to thecorporation shall be exclusively applied tothe advancement of education in the college,and to no object, institution or establishmentwhatever not in connection with norindependent of the same, it cannot beregarded as constituting a charitableinstitution.

    As regards the Finlay Asylum,incorporated by 20 Vic. c. 219, such a

    sectarian institution cannot pretend to be apublic charitable institution of Quebec, andhas no locus standi in this case, and no rightor interest to support the will in question.

    McCarthy Q.C. and Stuart Q.C. forrespondent Frank Ross on the appeal ofAnnie Ross et al, prayed the confirmation ofthat part of the judgment appealed from,

    whereby the sufficiency of the will isestablished, citing: - C.C. art. 7; PothierDon. ch. 1, art. 1, s. 1; Arrt of 14th July,1722 (Jour. des Audiences, lib. 5, ch. 31.Ricard, Trait du Don Mutuel no. 306;Bornier, Ch. 28, no. 20; Boullenois, vol. 2

    pp. 75, 78; Savigny, Private InternationalLaw, p. 265. Foelix, Droit InternationalPriv, no. 83, p. 107; 5 Pardessus, Droitcommercial, p. 255, no. 1486; 1 Laurent,nos. 100, 101, 102; Dalloz, Rpertoire vo.Lois, no. 430; 1 Aubry & Rau, p. 112, par.31, no. 6, note 79.

    Geoffrion Q.C. and Lafleur forrespondents Annie Ross and John T. Rosson the appeal of Frank Ross. The reasonsand authorities on behalf of these

    respondents have been set forth at length ontheir own appeal.

    Irvine Q.C. and Cook Q.C. forrespondents "The Morrin College" and "TheFinlay Asylum." (Fizpatrick Q.C. withthem).

    The question for solution is: Is aholograph will made in New York by aperson temporarily there, but domiciled atthe time in the province of Quebec, and

    owning both moveable and immoveableproperty in said province, which is disposedof by the will, valid, such form of will notbeing locally recognized by the laws of NewYork, although the rule prevails there aselsewhere generally in the United States,that a will disposing of moveable property isvalid if made in the form prescribed by thelaws of the testator's domicile - onedisposing of immoveables being only validif made in accordance with the law of theplace where the real property is situated - lex

    rei sitae?

    Against the validity of the will it isurged that the matter must be governed byour own law, and that by it the maxim, locusregit actum, requires a will made in NewYork to be made in a form valid by the lawsof that state on pain of nullity. It iscontended that article 7 of our Code, based

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    on the ancient law, follows this rule, anddeclares, at least by implication, that actsand deeds are invalid if not made in the formrequired by the lex loci actus; that our Codemust be interpreted on this point inconformity with the old French law which

    prevailed in this province, and that by thatlaw such a will was invalid.

    Such a conclusion seems to be contraryto the whole avowed policy of our Code andof the Imperial statute 14 George 3, ch. 83,on the subject of wills, by which freedom ofwilling and facilities for doing so wereextremely favoured and carried far beyondanything known to the old law, the policy ofwhich in this respect was the very reverse ofour own, seeking as it did uniformly to

    restrict the powers of and facilities fordisposal by testament.

    See Merlin's opinion re de Mercy,Rpertoire vo. Testament, sec. 2, par. 3, art.8. He is far from placing the maxim locusregit actum on a firm foundation as a rule ofsettled law. He cites the law and a largenumber of writers, including Vinnius,Burgundius, Rodenburg, against the rule.Again in the same article, sec. 2, par. 4, art.1, Merlin reports an appeal judgment in the

    case of the will of Despuget, of the 20thAugust, 1806, which clearly shows how farthe doctrine was from settled law. Troplong,Don. Test. no. 1734, speaking of article1999 of the Code Napoleon, does not saythat it is an innovation or new law, butasserts that it gives the preference to theopinion of Ricard and his school, theopposite opinion, that is, from that ofFurgole, Guyot and Merlin, which opinionwas supported not only by Ricard, but byBoullenois, Cujas and many of the greatest

    names in French jurisprudence as well as byarrts of parliament. Troplong refers to anarrt to that effect as not an isolated one; andhow divided views were on the question isseen in the statement of the various opinionsby Pothier, and by all the authors, whodiscuss it (Laurent, Droit Int., vol. 6, nos.406, 422, 424), or by referring to even thelast arrt reported by Merlin, or to any arrt

    that deals with the subject, an example ofwhich is seen in the arrt of Cambolas, liv.4, ch. 41, where the question is discussedboth as regards wills and contracts in anarrt of the 7th of August, 1622, therereported. The old writers and Ricard, cited

    under C.C. art. 854, are in favour of thevalidity of such wills made abroad, inconformity with the law of the testator'sdomicile. In this they are supported byBoullenois and by Cujas. At no. 191 of partI of Ricard, he cites an (ti.7.dt in support ofthe validity of a holograph will by lettermissive, and gives as a precedent the case ofthe codicil made by Lentulus in a letterwritten from Africa, which was approved byAugustus, and became law as stated in theInstitutes B. 2, tit. 25.

    Wharton, Conflict of Laws, 2nd ed. p.573, and sec. 588; Story, Conflict of Laws,ss. 465, 468, et seq.; 4 Burge, Colonial andForeign Laws, p. 582 et seq., and p. 590;Savigny, sec. 381, p. 324. The observance ofthe form in use at the place of the act ismerely facultative, and allows an election.Foelix, p. 107. Bar 36. Westlake, PrivateInternational Law, 123. Foelix, vol. 1, p.181. C.C. art. 6 and authorities in pede, art.7, C.N. 999; Abbott v. Fraser, Ramsay's Dig.

    p. 857, C.C. arts. 850, 854; Troplong, Don.Test. vol. 3, p. 392, no. 1465; 1 Laurent,Droit Civil, 158, 162; 6 Laurent, Droit. Int,653; Aubry & Rau, vol. 7, subsec. 699; 21Demolombe 142.

    The Imperial statute 14 Geo. 3,introducing the absolute freedom of deviseby will, and the right of willing in theEnglish form "with all its incidents," laiddown by the Privy Council in Migneault v.Malo, 16 L.C. Jur. 288, necessarily

    introduced the right of making a will in theform of the lex domicilii. Until the Code thepower to make wills in this form existed,and British subjects could make themanywhere. Meiklejohn v. The AttorneyGeneral, Stuart's L.C. Rep. 581; 2 Kn. 328.Personalty follows the law of the domicile,wills are valid if made in accordance withthe law of the domicile and only valid (till

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    24 & 25 Vic.), if made according to suchlaw. This principle is a rule of privateinternational law, and part of the jusgentium. Croker v. The Marquis of Hertford,4 Moore P.C. 339; Bremer v. Freeman, 10Moore P.C. 306; Whicker v. Hume, 7 H.L.

    Cas. 124; Story, Conflict of Laws, Secs.380, 381, Wheaton, 3 ed. p. 134.

    Under the old law of France previous tothe cession the weight of authority was infavour of the rule locus regit actum beingfacultative and not imperative, in relation towills; and during the last 150 years the rulethat a testator may make his will, in relationto personalty, according to the lex domicilii,has by common assent become a rule ofprivate international law.

    The will is valid under 14 Geo. 3, ch.83, in force when it was made, andpreserved quoad it, by C.C. art. 2613.

    The lex loci actus was not violated butobserved, the law of New York empoweringstrangers to make wills according to the lexdomicilii. The devise in trust and thediscretion of the trustee come expresslyunder art. 869 of the Civil Code which thecodifiers (fourth report art 124 bis, p. 181)

    state to be purely old law. The nature andextent of this discretion is well stated byTroplong, Pothier and all the authors, 1Troplong, Don. Test., nos 277, 278; 6Pothier, Don. Test., ch. 2, art. 8. Quoniamquasi viro bonu ei potius commissum est,non in meram voluntatem haeredis collatum.The discretion in this case is much less thanin those cited.

    The expression, as he may judge best,would not admit of discussion in view of the

    opinion expressed by all the authors - that siputaveris is binding. Frank Ross is bound todistribute the trust estate whether he will ornot, to the best of the judgment of a bonusvir, due regard being had, as Troplong says,to the fortune to be distributed, the positionand needs of the recipients and all othercircumstances.

    To judge of the distribution evidencecan be given, even parol, before the court ofall matters that will enable it to judge of thebona fides of the distribution, and how far itconforms to the judgment or arbitrium boniviri, 4 Demolombe, Don. Test., no. 37; 7

    Aubry & Rau, par. 712; Dellevaux v.Jambon, S.V. 80, 2, 197 and 72, 1, 406; andsee Wigram on Interpretation of wills, p. 51;Jarman on Wills, 392, 397.

    The trustee cannot defeat the trust byrefusing to distribute the fund. The courtwill do it for him even under English lawwhere the courts allow much more absolutediscretion to trustees than does our own,which in this respect is based on theequitable doctrine of the Roman law

    approved and adopted by Pothier and ourbest jurists. But even by English law thetrustee must distribute the funds. ThusLewin on Trusts ch. 28, p. 836, is in point.Gower v. Mainwaring, 2 Ves. 87.

    The fact of a trustee having refused orfailed to make a distribution is a ground onwhich the court will interfere and controlhim. Lewin, 777. The discretion is not as towho are to be the objects of the charity orbequest, but as to the proportion to each, and

    that must be bona fide and not capriciouslydetermined. Lewin, 839.

    Abbott v. McGibbon, 8 Legal News,267, does not apply, as the object arrived atin substitutions is to conserve the property inthe family, and that object is secured bygiving to one of the family. In the Ross willthe object is to support charities generally ofa particular class and poor relations, and togive all to one or to a few is to defeat theintention of the testator. For arrts see

    Ricard, no. 589, and Beaucourt v. Soc. & Lille, S.V. 75, 1, 307.

    There is no vagueness and uncertaintyin the sum, for the amount is fixed, nor inthe objects, for they are readilyascertainable. No microscopic search isrequired to discover the public, Protestant

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    corporate charities of this city and of a smallScotch village.

    See also Noad v. Noad, 21 L.C. Jur.312; Molson's Bank v. Lionais, 3 LegalNews, 83; Comte v. Lagac, 3 Dor. Q.B.

    319; Russell v. Lefranois, 8 Can. S.C.R.335; Harding v. Glyn, 1 Atk. 469; Taylor,Ev., 9th ed. s. 1131; Moggridge v.Thackwell, 3 Bro. C.C. 517; Power v.Cassidy, 79 N.Y. 602.

    It is sufficient for the intervenants toestablish a prima facie interest; the questionof their absolute rights is to be decided whenother claimants have been notified to appear.The immediate object is to defend thedocument on which their rights depend,

    which is impugned by both the plaintiffs andthe defendant.

    The charter of the Finlay Asylum (20Vic., ch. 219) establishes that it is a publicProtestant charity at Quebec.

    The case of Morrin College is stillstronger. The testator was for years agovernor; he repeatedly expressed hisintention of providing for it substantially; ashort while before his death he stated that

    the college had been opened prematurelyand on insufficient means, that it was doinga good work and would succeed, and he wasin the habit of contributing to its bursaryfund for the assistance of students withlimited means.

    What Morrin College is, and wasintended to be, its charter (24 Vic. ch. 109),the trust deed and deed of gift produced inthe case, the statement of the first principal,and the evidence abundantly show. The

    deeds explain Dr. Morrin's intentions:-

    "Whereas, the said Joseph Morrin isdesirous of leaving some permanentmemorial of his regard for the city ofQuebec, ... and at the same time of markinghis attachment to the Church in which hewas reared, and to which he has alwaysbelonged;

    "And, whereas, he considers none canbe more suitable for both purposes than aprovision for increasing and rendering moreperfect the means of obtaining for the youthgenerally, and especially those who may

    devote themselves to the ministry of the saidChurch, the means of obtaining a liberal andenlightened education; he does, &c., &c.

    The inaugural address declares theprinciples which were intended to guide thepolicy of the college, and which have eversince been pursued. For over thirty years,with very limited resources, it has, apartfrom theological instruction which wasnecessarily presbyterian, afforded a liberaland enlightened education to all desirous of

    obtaining it, without test or subscription ofany kind, and by means of professorsbelonging, not only to the various Protestantchurches, but to the Roman Catholic church.Nominal fees exacted from others havenever been required from poor students, whohave also, apart from their religious belief,been aided by money bursaries and freeaccommodation in the college rooms. Thegenerous intention of the founder was tosupply a want which, the University beingexclusively Catholic, and its instructions

    given almost entirely in the Frenchlanguage, could not so well render to theProtestant and English speaking youth.

    Both French and English law regardcolleges as charities. If the statute ofElizabeth on charitable trusts is in force inthis province the question does not admit ofa, doubt; and in a sense it is submitted thatthat statute is in force. From the earliestperiod the King, as pater patriae, was by hisprerogative the guardian. and protector of

    charities. The act of Elizabeth declared anddefined the charitable objects over which theprerogative extended, and in this sense itforms part of our law, as necessarily beingintroduced at the cession of the country tothe British Crown. C.C., 869. Theobald, pp.181, 182. Pomeroy v. Willway, 59 L.J. Ch.172.

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    The King's Edict of 1743, cited inFraser v. Abbott, Ramsay's Digest, 861,prohibited under certain circumstances thefoundation of charitable establishments bywill.

    Our own statute book, in which for thelast hundred years educational andbenevolent institutions are classed together,fully bears out this view. Desrivires v.Richardson, Stuart's L.C. Rep. 226.

    No order was made in the SuperiorCourt as to costs. As to whether the estategenerally, as held by Chief Justice Meredith,in Russell v. Lefranois, 5 Legal News 81,and supported by this court, 8 Can. S.C.R.375, 384, the losing parties individually,

    should bear the costs, it is for the court tosay. It is clearly a hardship for the successfulparties to be compelled to bear their own. Itmay be said that no appeal has been takenby the intervenants in. this case. That is true;but all costs are in the legal discretion of thecourt seized of the cause; and in Peters v.The Quebec Harbour Commissioners, 19Can. S.C.R. 685, where no appeal was takenon this subject, the court dealt in its ownway with costs. The respondents submit thatcosts should be awarded in all courts.

    The respondents ask that the judgmentappealed against be affirmed, and costsawarded them in all courts;

    1. Because the will is in all respectsvalid, both as a holograph will under theFrench system, and as a will of personaltyunder the English system in force in thisprovince in 1865;

    2. Because, under the will, a valid trust

    was established, to the extent of one-half ofthe estate passing under it, in favour ofcharities and poor relations, and by provingthe will and accepting and administering theestate, Mr. Frank Ross accepted the officeand assumed the duties and responsibilitiesof a trustee;

    3. Because Morrin College and theFinlay Asylum are public Protestantcharities within the meaning of the will; andWilliam Russell Ross is a poor relativewithin such meaning, and as such they hadan interest to intervene for the purpose of

    defending and establishing the validity ofthe document upon which their rights andthose of their co-beneficiaries depend;

    4. Because Frank Ross having assertedthat the whole estate devised was his ownabsolutely, and having disregarded theobligations of a trustee, the respondentswere bound to intervene to protect theirinterests; particularly as the plaintiff anddefendant plead that the trust devise of halfthe estate is void, and only differ as to its


    5. Because Frank Ross, pleading thatthe will was valid, is estopped from denyingthe validity of such trusts on the issues withthe intervening parties.

    Irving Q.C. and Cook Q.C. forrespondent W.R. Ross on both appeals.

    William Russell Ross is admitted to be apoor relation. His interest, however, is

    barred, in the opinion of both plaintiff anddefendant, from the double fact of hishaving lost money when in partnership withthe testator, and having owed money to theestate when he died. And so Frank Ross,while denying that he is called upon toexercise any discretion, uses what he termshis discretion, and excludes his cousin.Rights, conferred by the testator, cannot bethus summarily dealt with without amockery of justice. That James Gibb Rossintended that his poor relations, others than

    his heirs-at-law, should be benefited isproved by this. In 1865 he had but two heirs-at-law apart from Frank, for whom the willprovided, and they both were then aswealthy as, if not more wealthy than, J.G.Ross himself.

    The respondent, William Russell Ross,submits that the judgment of the court

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    appealed from is in all respects right, in sofar as it affects him, save as to costs. Herelies on the opinions of Mr. JusticeAndrews, and of the Chief Justice of theCourt of Queen's Bench, and on the reasonsurged by the intervening parties, Morrin

    College and Finlay Asylum, and prays thatthe appeals be dismissed with costs in allcourts.

    McCarthy Q.C. and Stuart Q.C., for theappellant Frank Ross.Geoffrion Q.C. and Lafleur, for appellants,Annie Ross and John Theodore Ross.Irvine Q.C. and Cook Q.C., for respondents"The Morrin College" and "The FinlayAsylum."Solicitors for appellant Frank Ross: Caron,

    Pentland & Stuart.Solicitor for appellants Annie Ross et al.:Eugene Lafleur.Solicitors for respondents, Morrin College,Finlay Asylum and W.R. Ross: W. & A.H.Cook.Solicitor for respondent Mary Frame: G.Irvine.



    as regards the principal action which had forits object a declaration that the will was nulland void, I am of opinion that the plaintiffsfail and that the action must be dismissed asagainst the defendants Frank Ross and DameMary Frame, with costs. In other words, Iam for affirming the judgment of theSuperior Court so far as it relates to theprincipal action in all respects, except thatportion of it which declares the will void asto immovables situate in Ontario, NewBrunswick, British Columbia and in the

    United States. I think the judgment in thislast respect was wrong. There was nojurisdiction in the Quebec courts to dealwith such immovables, the question of thevalidity or invalidity of wills as toimmovable property being one exclusivelyfor the forum rei sitae. I will not say that thejudgment does any harm by this declaration,but it being irregular and without

    jurisdiction I think the judgment of theSuperior Court, and of the Court of Queen'sBench which affirms it, should be rectifiedby striking out all about immovables inOntario, New Brunswick, British Columbiaand the United States. This would leave the

    judgment, so far as concerns the principalaction, a judgment dismissing the action.This dismissal of the action should, formanifest reasons, be with costs to FrankRoss and Dame Mary Frame.

    My reasons for this conclusion as to thedisposition of the appeal from the judgmentin the principal action, are as follows: First, Iam of opinion that the rule locus regitactum, was not before the enactment of thecode (nor since under the code itself, art. 7)

    imperative, but permissive only. Thejurisprudence is, it is true, contradictory, butPothier treats it as an unsettled point, andsuch great authorities as Boullenois, Ricard,Mass, Mailher de Chassat, Wharton, Story,Westlake, and I may say all modern writerswhose opinions are entitled to weight, are infavour of locus actum being regarded aspermissive only. To hold it to be imperativewould be harsh and unreasonable, entirely atvariance with the policy of the law of LowerCanada, since the Quebec Act, 1774, which

    favours the exercise of the testamentarypower instead of discouraging it, as was thepolicy of the old law of France, and mostarbitrary in making the sufficient executionof a will depend upon the locality of atestator who, whilst in transit, makes hiswill according to the law and forms of hisown domicile. Viewed as permissive onlythe rule locus regit actum is, on the otherhand, most beneficent and reasonable sinceit enables a testator who wishes to make anauthentic will to avail himself of the notaries

    and public officers of a foreign countrythrough which he may be passing at a timewhen he would not be able to avail himselfof the instrumentality of the notaries andpublic officers of his domicile. I thereforeconclude that the will was good becausemade in strict accordance with the lawrelating to holograph wills prevailing in theprovince of Quebec, in which province the

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    testator was domiciled, both at the time ofthe will and at the time of his death.

    Secondly, I agree with the reasons ofthe learned Chief Justice in his judgment inthe Court of Queen's Bench, that even if the

    rule focus regit actum does apply, yet itsufficiently appears from the evidence, thatby the law of the State of New York this willwould be considered good as to movableseverywhere, and as to immovables inQuebec. Good as to movables whereversituated because it was executed accordingto the law of the testator's domicile, andgood as to immovables in the province ofQuebec because executed according to thelaw of the situation of those immovables.Therefore, applying the rule locus regit

    actum the will was a good will according tothe law of the State of New York, at least tothe extent to which it can properly comeunder the jurisdiction of the courts of theprovince of Quebec; that is to say, excludingthe immovables situate in the provinces ofOntario, New Brunswick and BritishColumbia, and in the United States.

    Then as to the Interventions. As theprincipal action was to annul the will, and asthat action is dismissed, we are not called

    upon to interpret the legacies to any greaterextent than is rendered necessary for thepurpose of disposing of the interventions,but to this extent we must interpret it inorder to ascertain if the parties had any rightto intervene.

    Then the intervention of WilliamRussell Ross must be dismissed because hehas no locus standi to maintain it.

    The gift to "poor relations" is, according

    to the terms of the will, not an absolute giftto the objects the testator intended to benefit,but rightly interpreted is to be read asconferring upon Frank Ross a faculty ofselection amongst persons coming withinthat description. Could William, RussellRoss have possibly derived any benefitunder this disposition? If it had been in thepower of Frank Ross to select him as one of

    the beneficiaries I should unhesitatinglyhave agreed with the learned Chief Justiceof the Queen's Bench in holding thatWilliam Russell Ross had a locus standi tomaintain an intervention in favour of theassailed will, though his interest would be

    contingent and uncertain until Frank Rossshould exercise his faculty of selection. Butaccording to the interpretation which I puton the description "poor relations," FrankRoss had no power to select this WilliamRussell Ross, who was a cousin of thetestator only and not one of his heirs-at-law,as a beneficiary under the will. "Poorrelations" must be interpreted as meaning"heirs-at-law." The word "poor" is too vagueand to have any meaning attached to it, andmust therefore be rejected. The word

    "relations," then standing alone, must berestricted to some particular class, for if itwere to be construed generally as meaningall relatives it would be impossible ever tocarry out the directions of the will. The linemust therefore be drawn somewhere, andcan only be drawn so as to exclude allexcept those whom the law, in the case of anintestacy, recognizes as the proper classamong whom to divide the property of adeceased person who dies intestate, namely,his heirs. Then William Russell Ross is not

    an heir; therefore his intervention must bedismissed with costs to Frank Ross, butwithout costs as regards the plaintiffs andother heirs who contested the interventionon a ground which failed, namely, that thetestament was null.

    As regards the intervention of "MorrinCollege," it does not come within thedescription of a charitable institutionaccording to the ordinary meaning of thewords, for in administering the law of the

    province of Quebec we have, of course,nothing to do with technical charities underthe English law and the statute of Elizabeth.If, therefore, Frank Ross were to selectMorrin College as a charitable institutionentitled to benefits under the will hisselection would be unauthorized and void,for it does not appear from the record thatthat seminary of learning is, an

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    eleemosynary institution. Consequently, forthe same reason as in the case of WilliamRussell Ross, the intervention of MorrinCollege must be dismissed with costs toFrank Ross.

    As regards the intervention of FinlayAsylum, it stands on a different ground fromthe other interventions and must bemaintained upon the principle the learnedChief Justice states. It would be competentto Frank Ross to select Finlay Asylum as abeneficiary, and this gives that institution aright to intervene for the purpose ofsupporting the will. Frank Ross fails,therefore, in his contestation in this respectand must pay the costs of the intervention ofFinlay Asylum.

    As I say above, I only interpret the willso far as is necessary for disposing of theinterventions. I disclaim any intention ofconstruing its provisions as to these legaciesto poor, relatives and charities beyond this. Itherefore leave open for futureconsideration, and for a determination insome further action or proceeding if theparties cannot agree, the questions of howfar Frank Ross's powers of selection go;whether he can give to some of the heirs and

    exclude others, or whether he must givesomething to all; and I would say the samewith reference to the charities. Further, thequestion of whether Frank Ross himself isentitled to benefit as one of the heirs is notin any way prejudiced by the presentjudgment. The judgment in the principalaction must, therefore, be varied by omittingall reference to the immovables outside theprovince of Quebec, and by simplydismissing the action with costs to FrankRoss and Dame Mary Frame. The

    intervention of William Russell Ross andthat of Morrin College must both bedismissed with costs payable to Frank Ross.The intervention of Finlay Asylum must bemaintained with costs against Frank Ross.

    As regards the costs in the Court ofQueen's Bench, Frank Ross and Dame MaryFrame are to have their costs of the appeal

    from the judgment in the principal action,and Frank Ross is to have his costs of theappeal in respect of the intervention byWilliam Russell Ross and Morrin Collegeand must pay the costs of the appeal ofFinlay Asylum, and in this court the costs

    must be disposed of in the same way as inthe court of Queens Bench.

    FOURNIER J.: L'action en cettecause, intente par Dame Annie Ross contreFrank Ross et autres, a pour but principal defaire dclarer nul le testament olographe defeu James Gibb Ross. Aprs avoir allgu ledcs, Qubec, le 1er octobre 1888, du ditfeu James Gibb Ross, elle dclare que plusd'un an aprs, le 28 octobre 1889, untestament olographe, dat du 8 fvrier, 1865,

    New-York, a t trouv sa rsidence,lequel se lit comme suit:

    I hereby will and bequeath all my property,assets ormeans of any kind to my brother Frank, whowill use onehalf of them for public protestant charities inQuebecand Carluke, say the Protestant HospitalHome, theFrench-Canadian Mission, and amongst

    poor relatives, ashe may judge best, the other half for himselfand forhis own use, excepting two thousand poundswhich he willsend to Miss Mary Frame, Overton Farm.



    Elle allgue ensuite que ce testament estnul, parce qu'il a t fait New-York dans

    une forme qui n'est pas reconnue par la loide cet tat; elle allgue de plus que ledfendeur Frank Ross a seul pris possessionde la succession en vertu de ce testament, etqu'elle, la demanderesse, ainsi que les autresdfendeurs sont les seuls hritiers lgitimesdu dit feu James G. Ross, ayant droit sasuccession.

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    En vertu d'un amendement permis plustard, la demanderesse a ajout sadclaration les allgations suivantes, quemme si ce testament pouvait tre considrvalable dans aucune partie, il taitcertainement illgal quant tous les

    immeubles situs en dehors de la provincede Qubec, parce que la loi des pays de leursituation, ne reconnaissait pas la validitd'un semblable testament quant auximmeubles, et que quant l'autre moitilgue Frank Ross pour tre distribue sadiscrtion parmi les institutions charitables,et des parents pauvres, le dit James G.Ross devait tre considr comme dcd abintestat, attendu que ce legs tait nul pourcause d'incertitude. Elle concluait la nullitdu testament, que le dit Frank Ross fut

    condamn lui livrer un neuvime de lasuccession, et de plus, lui rendre comptedes fruits et revenus.

    Frank Ross et Mary Frame, ont seulsplaid l'action, la validit du testament dudit James Gibb Ross; que ce testament,quoique fait New York, a t apport parle testateur son domicile Qubec, qu'il l'atoujours conserv jusqu' sa mort; cetestament est fait suivant les formalits de laprovince de Qubec, o il avait son

    domicile, et par la loi de New-York, touttestament fait dans cet tat, suivant la loi dudomicile du testateur, est lgal; lesdfendeurs nient aussi que le testament a texcut dans l'tat de New-York. Lesconclusions demandent le renvoi de l'action.

    Tous les faits qu'il tait ncessaire deprouver l'appui de cette contestation ontt admis.

    cette action se sont portes parties


    1. W. Russell Ross, se disant un parentpauvre du testateur; 2. le Morrin College; et3. le Finlay Asylum, allguant qu'ils taientdes institutions charitables, (public charities)suivant l'intention du testateur, pour soutenirla validit du testament.

    Le droit des intervenants a t contestpar la demanderesse et le dfendeur, qui ontallgu quant au Morrin Collge qu'il n'taitpas une institution charitable suivantl'intention du testament, et, quant au FinlayAsylum que ce n'tait pas une institution

    publique charitable, et quant W. RussellRoss, le dit Frank Ross disait avoir djexerc son sujet la discrtion qui lui taitlaisse par le testament, en l'excluant de laparticipation du legs pour les motifs qu'il aindiqus.

    La cause prsente pour la dcision decette cour, les questions suivantes :

    1. Validit du testament de James G.Ross, fait New-York.

    2. Les legs qu'il contient en faveur desinstitutions charitables et des parentspauvres du testateur, est-il valable?

    3. S'il est nul, qui doivent, revenir lesbiens lgus, aux hritiers du testateur, ou son lgataire, Frank Ross?

    4. Les intervenants avaient-ils un intrtsuffisant pour justifier leur intervention dansla cause?

    Le testament ayant t fait en 1865, c'est la loi antrieure au code civil de laprovince de Qubec qu'il faut recourir pouren dcider la validit. Le testament tantdans la forme olographe, sa validit doit tredcide d'aprs les principes de l'anciendroit franais qui tait alors en force dans laprovince de Qubec.

    L'Honorable Sir Alexandre Lacoste,juge en chef, a discut dans ses savantesnotes sur cette cause, les opinions les plus en

    vogue parmi les auteurs qui ont crit sur ledroit des gens et trait de la validit destestaments faits l'tranger. D'aprs les uns,le testament n'est valide que s'il est fait,selon les formalits requises par la loi dulieu de sa confection, d'aprs la maximelocus regit actum, Une autre opinion veutqu'il soit fait suivant la loi du domicile dutestateur. La troisime, qui est la plus

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    gnralement adopte, dit-il reconnat tousles testaments faits en la forme requise, soitl o, se trouve le testateur, soit en celle deson domicile.

    Aprs avoir pass en revue ces diverses

    opinions et cit beaucoup d'arrts l'Hon.Juge en arrive la conclusion que la maximelocus regit actum rgissait le territoireassujetti la coutume de Paris et que d'aprsnotre droit en 1865 le testament fait l'tranger par une personne domicilie dansle Bas-Canada devait tre fait suivant lesformes du lieu o il tait pass peine denullit.

    Le droit ancien a t reproduit dansl'article 7 de notre code civil qui se lit

    comme suit:

    Les actes faits ou passs hors du Bas-Canada sont valables, si on y a suivi lesformalits requises par les lois du lieu o ilssont passs.

    On a soutenu l'argument que lestestaments olographes n'avaient pas deforme. Certains auteurs ont mis cetteopinion. Cependant, le grand nombre est

    d'un sentiment contraire et la jurisprudencese dclare dans leur sens.

    En nous rfrant notre code civil, ditl'Hon. Sir A. Lacoste, nous trouvons quel'article 842 qui a trait aux conditionsexiges pour la validit des testaments engnral et du testament olographe enparticulier se trouvent sous la rubrique "Dela forme des testaments." Comme le ditPothier, la forme du testament olographeconsiste dans le fait qu'il doit tre crit en

    entier par le testateur, et sign par lui.

    Quelle est, d'aprs la loi de l'tat deNew-York, la validit du testament de JamesG. Ross fait New-York en 1865? Si cetestament eut t fait par un rsident del'tat, il serait nul, comme n'ayant pas tattest par deux tmoins. Mais l'art. 2611 du

    code de procdure de cet tat, permettantaux trangers de faire un testament suivantles formes du pays de leur domicile, cetestament est lgal en vertu de cettedisposition introduite en faveur destrangers. Ce testament, entirement crit de

    la main du testateur et sign de lui, setrouvant en la forme olographeconformment la loi en force, lors du, sadate, dans la province de Qubec, est parl'exception de l'art. 2611 de la loi de New-York, en faveur des trangers, reconnuvalable comme le testament d'un tranger,autoris par cette loi se servir de la formede testament de son pays. C'est comme si laloi de New-York avait admis spcialementla forme olographe en faveur des trangers,et, en ce sens, c'est par application de la

    rgle locus regit actum, que ce testamentdoit, tre considr comme valable. Cetestament quoique valable ne peut cependantpas avoir le mme effet partout. S'il devaittre invoqu dans l'tat de New-York, il nepouvait avoir d'effet que par rapport auxmeubles comme tant fait suivant la formedu domicile du testateur. Mais n'tant pasexcut en prsence de deux tmoins, iln'aurait aucun effet quant aux immeublessitus dans l'tat de New-York. Cependantsa validit comme testament fait d'aprs la

    loi du pays o il a t excut ( New-York)n'en est pas affecte; l'effet seul en est limitsuivant la loi du pays o il est invoqu.

    Mais dans la province de Qubec il doittre considr quant ses effets commetestament fait d'aprs la loi en force ici, etproduit tous les effets que la loi en force luidonne.

    On doit de plus, l'interprterconformment l'art. 8, code civil

    reproduisant l'ancien droit, qui veut que

    les actes s'interprtent et s'apprcientsuivant la loi du lieu o ils sont passs, moins qu'il n'y est, quelque loi cecontraire, que les parties ne s'en soientexprimes autrement ou des autrescirconstances, il n'apparaisse que l'intentionn'ait t de s'en rapporter la loi d'un autre

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    testament, mais plutt transfrer ce pouvoir une tierce personne. Pothier, Donationstestamentaires, pose ainsi la rgle:

    No. 73. Une disposition testamentaire estnulle par vice d'obscurit lorsqu'on ne peut

    absolument discerner quel est celui au profitde qui le testateur a voulu la faire. No. 78.De mme que pour la validit du legs il fautqu'on puisse connatre qui le testateur avoulu lguer, il faut aussi qu'on puisseconnatre ce qu'il a voulu lguer, autrementle legs est nul, selon cette rgle, quae intestamento ita scripta sunt ut intelligi nonpossint, permissi sunt ac si scripta nonessint. L. 73 et 1er, ff de Reg. jur.

    Troplong, Don. et Test. vol. 2, 517-18.

    La certitude de la personne gratifie estune des premires conditions de toutelibralit. La raison donne par Caius sersume dans ces paroles: "Incerta autemvidetur persona, quam per incertamopinionem, animo suo testator subjicit." Letestateur n'a eu aucune ide prcise de lapersonne gratifie; il n'aurait rien dit depositif.

    Cette autre rgle du droit romain inalienam voluntatem conferri legatem nonpotest, a t adopte dans notre code, art. 56.

    7 Aubry & Rau, p. 69, ss. 655 and 656.

    Les dispositions testamentaires doivent trefaites en faveur de personnes certaines. Sielles taient faites au profit de personnesincertaines, elles seraient envisager commenon avenues.

    On entend par personnes incertainescelles dont l'individualit n'est niactuellement dtermine, ni mmesusceptible de l'tre par l'arrive de quelquevnement indiqu dans le testament.

    Les dispositions testamentaires doiventtre l'expression directe de la volont du

    testateur. De ce principe rsultent deuxconsquences suivantes:

    (a) Le testateur ne peut faire dpendrel'existence mme d'un legs, du pur arbitre,meram arbitrium de l'hritier ou d'un tiers.

    (b) Le testateur ne peut faire dpendrel'effet d'un legs en ce qui concerne ladsignation du lgataire du choix del'hritier ou d'un tiers. En d'autres termes, ilne peut confrer qui que ce soit la facultd'lire, c'est--dire de choisir soitindfiniment, soit parmi plusieurs individusindiqus au testament, la personne qui devraprofiter du legs, 5 Toullier, nos. 350, 351,606; 3 Zacharieae (Mass & Verg) p. 34,note 2.

    Demolombe dit comme suit, vol. 18 no.608 et 618:

    Nous croyons qu'il faut entendre parpersonnes incertaines celles dont l'actemme de disposition ne dtermine pasactuellement l'individualit et n'indique nonplus aucun moyen aucun vnement parl'accomplissement desquels elle pourraitplus tard dtermine.

    Puisqu'il faut que le lgataire soit dsignpar le testament, lui-mme, le testateur nesaurait confier l'hritier ou un tiers le soinde le dsigner: et voil comment la facultd'lire se rattache la thorie des personnesincertaines.

    Voir aussi Merlin in re Jean Merendol,Rp. vo. Lg. par. II, vol. 16,p. 425 [d.Belge]; Merlin, Rp. vo. Institutiond'Hritier, s. V., par. 1, no. XVIII, vol. 15, p.

    367 [d. Belge]; Rej: 12 aot 1811, Cass.Affre. Lauglier et Hritiers Merendol, S.V.11, 1, 391; Rej: 3 mars 1857, Cass. Hritiersde Sauvan v. de Saurieu, S.V., 57, 1, 182;Arrt C. d'Appel de Colmar. Affre. Maeglinv. Willig. 22 mai 1850, S.V. 52, 2, 435.

    Considrant que le testament doit trel'expression de la volont du testateur, fix

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    sur une personne certaine, et ne saurait trepar suite subordonn la volont d'un tiers,que le lgataire doit tre clairement dsignetc.

    Arrt Cour d'Appel de Douai, 15 Dc.1848, Dette v. Detve, S.V. 49, 2, 538;Arrt C. Royale de Bordeaux 6 mars 1841,Laboujouderie v. Raffier, S.V. 41, 2, 240;Rej. Cass. 8 aot 1826. Legrand Masse v.Lepine, S.V. 27, 1, 409; Cass. 28 mars 1859.Beurier v. Emorine, S.V. 60, 1, 346. Rep.Cass. 30 nov. 1869. Britelle et al. v.Deyvrande, Dalloz, Recueil 1870, 1, 202;Simon v. Simon, Journal du Palais 1827,132.

    D'aprs l'nonc de ce jugement, on voitque la certitude sur la personne de lgataireest une des premires conditions de lavalidit de tout legs. Tout legs fait unepersonne incertaine doit tre considrcomme nul. Les personnes incertaines sontcelles dont l'individualit n'est pasdtermine par le testament ni susceptible del'tre par l'vnement de quelque conditionindique dans le testament. Il suit de l quela validit du legs ne peut dpendre del'arbitraire de l'hritier ou d'un tiers, et que le

    testateur ne peut non plus en ce qui concernele choix du lgataire, le faire dpendre duchoix de l'hritier ou d'un tiers.

    L'Hon. Juge qui a dcid en premireinstance a nonc dans sa savantedissertation sur cette cause, les principessouvent formul, ainsi qu'il suit:

    1st. It is the certain policy of our law andmy clear duty to give effect to the wholewill of the testator unless prevented by

    insuperable difficulties. 2nd. If the will hadnot contained the words giving Mr. FrankRoss a discretionary power as to theselection of the particular individual bodiesand persons to be benefited, but had simplysaid that he should give one half of theestate to the public protestant charities ofQuebec and Carluke and to poor relatives, Ithink the law would imply that the

    distribution between them be an equaldistribution. 3rd. I think that if Mr. FrankRoss shall refuse or neglect to exercise thediscretion vested in him by the will, thecourts here should not allow such refusal orneglect to defeat the testator's bequest; but

    as the court lacks the special knowledgewhich Mr. Frank Ross presumably has ofwhat would have been the distribution whichthe testator would have wished, it wouldmake no endeavour to exercise anydiscretion or discrimination beyond thatpointed out by the lines of the will itself andwould therefore distribute the testator'sbounty equally among all the individualscomposed in the category or class ofbeneficiaries therein designated.

    Le premier de ces principes est admis. Iln'en est pas de mme de deux autres. Il n'estcertainement pas correct de dire que si letestament n'avait pas donn Frank Ross lepouvoir de faire lui-mme la distribution,elle aurait lieu par parts gales d'aprs la loi;et que dans le cas o il refuserait d'exercerles pouvoirs qui lui sont confrs la cour enferait la distribution. Cette distribution galene peut avoir lieu qu'entre successibles aumme degr, mais entre parents diffrents

    degrs les plus proches excluent les plusloigns. Si Frank Ross dcdait sans avoirfait la distribution la cour ne pourrait enordonner une distribution gale entre lesparents, car les tribunaux dans la provincede Qubec ne possdent aucun pouvoir cetgard. La 34 Geo. 3, tout en confrant lacour du Banc du Roi remplace par la courSuprieure, la juridiction de la Prvt deParis, a cependant dclar qu'aucun pouvoirlgislatif possd par aucune cour avant laConqute n'tait transfr la Cour du Banc

    du Roi.

    La cause du testament de Dame Anne,&., Beauvoisin, Ricard no. 589, cite dans lefactum de l'appelant, qui avait laiss lersidu de ses biens aux pauvres honteux quiseront choisis par les excuteurstestamentaires se rapportant au choix despauvres leur discrtion, est une de ces

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    causes o les cours par l'exercice de leurpouvoir lgislatif substituait leur volont celle du testateur. C'est en vertu de cepouvoir que la cour ordonna que la moitidu rsidu des biens serait divise entre, leshritiers suivant l'ordre dans lequel ils

    auraient succd si la succession avait t abintestat et l'autre moiti l'Htel-Dieu deParis et aux pauvres de l'aumne de Lyon.Quoique cette distribution soit contraire autestament on voit cependant que dans lamoiti attribue aux parents, la cour a suivil'ordre de succession. Il en doit tre demme dans le cas d'un legs faits aux pauvresparents. C'est l'ordre de succession qu'ilfaudrait suivre. Fautres causes de ce genresont cites, mais elles sont comme celle-ci,fondes sur l'exercice du pouvoir lgislatif

    de ces cours.

    Maintenant en France les legs faits auxpauvres ou pour des fins de charit sontconsidrs comme faits au bureau deBienfaisance de la Commune. Nous n'avonsaucune institution de ce genre dans notreprovince. Parmi les nombreuses institutionsde charit existant dans le pays, aucune n'estautorise par la loi rclamer et administrerles legs prsums faits par ces objets.

    Considrant le legs fait aux parentspauvres comme absolument nul pour caused'incertitude, je suis d'avis que W.R. Rossn'avait aucun droit d'intervenir dans laprsente cause et que son intervention doittre renvoye.

    Le jugement doit aussi tre modifidans cette partie qui condamne le dfendeurFrank Ross remettre et livrer lademanderesse un neuvime indivis des biensde la succession situe en dehors de la

    province de Qubec, savoir dans la provinced'Ontario, New Brunswick, la ColombieAnglaise, et les tats-Unis, parce qu'il n'estpas prouv que le dit dfendeur en ait jamaiseu possession; cette partie du jugement doittre retranche; en outre, la cour n'avaitaucune juridiction pour dcider sur l'effet dece testament dans les provinces ci-dessusnomms. Le testament attaqu doit tre

    dclar bon et valide, et l'action renvoyeavec dpens ainsi que les interventions duMorrin College et de W.R. Ross, aussi avecdpens.

    TASCHEREAU J.: I dissent, I would

    allow the appeal. There is, however, one ofthe questions of law arising in the case uponwhich I agree that the conclusion reached bythe judgment appealed from is entirelycorrect. That is, as to the absolute nullity ofRoss's will by the law of the province takenalone and exclusively of the New Yorkstatute. The learned Chief Justice, SirAlexander Lacoste, has so amplydemonstrated the soundness or the doctrineunanimously adopted by the Court ofQueen's Bench on this part of the case, that I

    would have thought it unassailable. Therespondent, however, not quite sure perhapsof his position on the other question in thecase, to which I shall presently refer, uponwhich he succeeded before the Court ofQueen's Bench in having the will in questionmaintained, has strenuously argued beforeus, as we had a perfect right to do, that thiswill is valid by the law of the provinceindependently of the New York law, andthat the Court of Queen's Bench's judgmentto the contrary is erroneous. Under the

    circumstances, though I feel that I cannotadd anything to the strength of the reasoningof the learned Chief Justice of the Court ofQueen's Bench, I have thought that therespondent was entitled to expect at ourhands a full review of the question.

    It is a general rule, in relation to formsof acts or deeds, that forms prescribedmerely for the purpose of facilitating thesolemnization of all act or deed arefacultative or optional, but that forms

    necessary to their validity, as those for willsall are, must imperatively be with. Inaccordance with this principle besides otherreasons, the jurisprudence was uniform inFrance, before the Code Napoleon, that therule locus regit actum, re-enacted by art. 7 ofthe Quebec code, imperatively governedwills made in foreign countries, includingholograph wills.

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    Laurent, Dr. Intern. par. 259, vol. 2, the

    opinions expressed to the contrary by theGerman writer Savigny, and a few officerswhom Wharton, Conflict of Laws, 585-588,681, calls modern Roman Jurists, upon

    whose writings the respondent has almost,exclusively to rely in support of hisimpeachment of the conclusion reached bythe court of Queen's Bench on this point.Not a single case has been cited by him insupport of his contention. On the contrary, Ifind that as far back as in 16-0, in a case ofPinard v. Andras, 17 Guyot Rep. 167-8, theParliament of Paris held that a holographwill made in Bruxelles by a Frenchmandomiciled in Paris was absolutely nullbecause the Belgian law did not allow that

    form of will. The same doctrine wasfollowed by the same high court in 1720, inthe case of d'Argelos, 7 Jour. Aud. 520, in1721 in the case of Pommereu, 7 Jour. Aud.515, and in 1722 in the case of Boisel, 7Jour. Aud. 689. These cases are all noted,with an acte de notorit, in the same sense,re Paulo, in Guyot, Rep. vo. Testament,where the author adds, page, 166, that

    It cannot be seriously contended that theformalities required by law for a will are

    personal and are carried with the personeverywhere.

    The Pommereu case, reported at lengthin 7 Journal des And. 515, commented uponby Merlin, Rep. vo. Testament, is preciselyin point. The will there in question had beenmade in the holograph form by a testatorwhose domicile was in Paris, while he wastemporarily in Douay where holograph willswere not legal. The argument in support of

    the will was, as it is here on the part of therespondent, that as it was in the formallowed by the testator's domicile it wasvalid; that the testator carried everywherewith his person the right to make aholograph will; that the contrary doctrine isirrational and inconvenient; that a holographwill has no forms, &c., &c.

    Against the will it was argued that a willnull by the law of the place where it wasmade is null everywhere even if madeaccording to the law of the testator'sdomicile; that it is all error to say that theoption to make a will either in this form or

    in another is attached to the person andcarried with the person everywhere.

    The question, it will be seen by thisshort extract of the report of the ease, wasfully argued on both sides, and the resultwas, as stated, that the highest court of theKingdom declared the will null.

    In another case, re Millot, on the 15thJuly 1777, a holograph will, made in Parisby a testator domiciled in a place where such

    wills were not legal, was held valid. And onthe 15th. Pluv. and 20th August 1806, bytwo arrts, a will made in Bordeaux whereholograph wills were not legal, by a testatordomiciled in Paris where such wills werelegal, was declared void. The leadingcommentators under the old system adoptedthe same doctrine.

    Auzanet, on art. 289 of the Coutume, deParis, says

    What of a will by a Frenchman in Italy, inEngland, in Spain or any other foreigncountry in the form required by the lex loci?Held that it is valid, even for the propertiessituated in France. And if the will is notmade according, to the form required by thelaw of the country where it is made, it mustbe declared null, even if it is made inconformity with the laws of the countrywhere the property devised is situated, andthat as to immovables as well as tomovables.

    "The formalities for a will," saysBourjon, 2, 305, "are those required by thelaw of the place where it is made." AndRicard says that the question whether it islex domicilii or the lex loci or the lex reisitae, which is to govern the formalities of awill had formerly been a subject much

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    discussed, but that it is now settled by auniform jurisprudence that the formalitiesmust exclusively be those required by thelaw of the place where the will is made.

    Troplong, Donat. no. 1737, answers

    what Ricard says to the contrary in anotherpart of his writings which is also commentedupon in the Pommereu case I have referredto. Ferrire, Grand Coutumier, on art. 289Coutume de Paris vol. 4, p. 131 et seq,Rosseau de la Combe, vo. Testament, p.706, Furgole, vol. 1 p. 69, all adopt the samedoctrine, and recognize that the law isauthoritatively settled in that sense.

    In France, now, under art. 999 of theCode Napoleon, and in Louisiana under art.

    1588 of their Code, a holograph will,according to the French form, made in aforeign country is valid whether the law ofthat foreign country authorizes it or not, butthat provision is no where to be found in theQuebec Code. That it has been deliberatelyleft out there can be no doubt. The draftershad constantly before them in the course oftheir labours the enactments of those twoCodes, and they did not adopt a singlearticle without maturely weighing thechanges thereby made in the law and closely

    scrutinizing their corresponding enactments,yet they entirely omitted this provision that aholograph will may be legally madeanywhere.

    This, to my mind, is as conclusive onthe question as if the code had decreedexpressly that a holograph will cannot bemade in any foreign country where suchform of will is not allowed, and that suchhad always been the law in the province.

    A reference to the leadingcommentators under the Code Napoleonalso supports that view.

    Marcad, vol. 4, p. 61 on art. 999, says:

    C'est uniquement la loi du pays o l'acte sefait qui doit en rgir la forme, locus regitactum. D'aprs ce principe un franais ne

    pourrait tester valablement en la formeolographe que sur le territoire franais oudans un pays dont la loi admettraitgalement cette forme de tester. C'est ce quia eu lieu jusqu' la publication du Code.

    And he adds that it was generallyadmitted by the best commentators and by auniform jurisprudence under the old system,that a holograph will made in a countrywhere that form is not known to the law,was invalid. Coin-Delisle, Donat. et Test.,on art. 999, and Demante, vol. 4, p. 301, areof the same opinion. I refer also to Journaldu Droit International Priv, 1880, p. 381;Dalloz, rp. vo. Dispositions, entre-vifs ettestamentaires, no. 2506, says in the same


    Il en est du lieu comme du temps; c'est laloi du lieu o le testament a t pass quirgle les formalits de cet acte. De l l'adagesi connu, locus regit actum. No. 2507.L'application de la rgle, locus regit actumaux testaments olographes tait quelque peuconteste sous l'ancienne jurisprudence. ...Mais l'opinion de Bouhier et de Ricard neprvalent pas. Furgole ... et Pothier ...soutinrent l'opinion contraire. ... Ces auteurs

    concluaient que le testateur quelle que ftd'ailleurs sa loi personnelle, tait capable ouincapable de tester par testament olographe,suivant que cette forme tait ou non admisedans le lieu o le testament se trouvait crit.Cette thorie a t consacre par quatrearrts de parlement du 10 mars 1620, 15janvier 1721, 14 juillet 1722, 15 juillet 1777,par un acte de Notorit du Chtelet, du 13septembre 1702, et appuye de l'autorit deMerlin. Ces arrts avaient fix lajurisprudence d'une manire invariable, et il

    ne restait de dissidence dans la doctrine quel'opinion contraire de Boullenois, opinioninfluence par une extension systmatique etvidemment exagre des principes del'auteur sur les statuts. No. 2508. Le CodeNapolon ne s'est occup de la maximelocus regit actum, que pour la confirmercomme il l'a fait par l'article 999 l'gard dutestament authentique tout en la modifiant

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    l'gard du testament olographe accomplisl'un et l'autre par un franais en paystrangers.

    Domolombe, vol. xxi, nos 482-3 p. 453,says

    Il est vrai que l'article 999 autorise leFranais faire un testament olographesuivant la forme franaise dans les paysmmes o cette forme ne serait pas admise;mais c'est l une exception que la loifranaise a faite en faveur des Franais, afinde leur donner le plus de moyens possiblesde faire leur testament en pays tranger;exception de faveur, disons-nous, qui neprouve nullement que les auteurs du Codeaient mconnu le vrai caractre de la loi qui

    autorise cette forme de testament.

    The same author then discusses theassertion of Foelix and Aubry and Rau thatthe rule locus regit actum is facultative so asto permit the execution of the will eitheraccording to the law, of the domicile oraccording to the law of the place ofexecution and adds, Dem. vol. xxi, no. 484,p. 454:

    Cette doctrine, sans doute, pourrait paratreraisonnable, et nous sommes en effet port croire qu'elle serait, si elle tait admise, unprogrs du droit nouveau sur l'ancien droit.Mais il faut reconnatre que l'ancien droit nel'avait pas admise; et nous avons aussiconstat ailleurs qu'elle n'a pas encore nonplus russi se faire reconnatre dans notredroit nouveau.

    At par. 482, in fine, the author says that

    the doctrine in France before the Code hadalmost universally prevailed that aholograph will made in a country where thatform of will is not recognized, is a nullity,even if the lex domicilii of the testatorrecognized it. And at par. 106 bis vol. 1, p.129 the same author says: "Is the rule, locusregit actum imperative or merelyfacultative?" The question was under the old

    law much discussed but, however, theopinion that it was imperative had prevailed.And such is the tendency of our modernjurisprudence.

    Laurent, Dr. Civ. vol. xiii, p. 166, no.

    159, says:

    La drogation est claire, mais quelle en estla porte? En faut-il conclure que la formedes testaments olographes est un statutpersonnel? On l'a prtendu et nous verrons l'instant que cette question de thorie a unintrt pratique. Il nous semble que ladifficult n'en est pas une, car les principesles plus lmentaires sur l'interprtation deslois suffisent pour la dcider. Que la loi quirgle les solennits d'un acte ne soit pas une

    loi personnelle tout le monde en convient;l'opinion de Boullenois et de Boubier esttoujours reste isole. L'article 999 endrogeant l'adage, locus regit actum, a-t-ilchang la nature des lois concernant lesformes? Il a permis au Franais de faire untestament olographe d'aprs la loi franaisedans les pays o cette forme de tester neserait pas admise. Toute exception doit trerenferme dans les limites de la loi qui l'atablie. L'exception de l'article 999 se borne accorder un Franais une facult qu'il

    n'avait pas en vertu du droit commun, voiltout. Le statut reste donc ce qu'il tait, unstatut rel.

    The same writer at par. 246 et seq. vol.2, droit international, repeats the samedoctrine. Also in vol. 1 droit civil 99 et seq.,and in vol. 6 droit intern., nos. 415-922, hesays of art. 999, Code Napoleon, that theCode has deviated from the old law on thesubject and inaugurated a new principle. In

    vol. 7 dr. intern. nos. 5 et seq., are otherremarks of the same writer in the samesense.

    Aubry and Rau, vol. 1, p. 112, though ofopinion that the rule locus regit actum ismerely facultative and not imperative,concede that under the old law the rule washeld to be imperative. That it is facultative

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    under art. 999 of the Code Napoleon isunquestionable, but i repeat it, that it is notand never has been law in the province ofQuebec; and Boileux, vol. 4, p. 122, says:

    Under the jurisprudence anterior to the code

    it was generally admitted that a Frenchmancould not validly make a holograph will in acountry where that form of will was notlegal.

    I refer also to the decisions in De Veinev. Routledge, S.V. 52, 2, 289, to the samecase in Cassation, S.V. 53, 1, 274, sub. nom.Browning v. de Nayve, and to 3 Troplong,Donat. nos. 1736 et seq., where it is said thatthe opinion of Ricard and others to the

    contrary did not prevail in France before theCode.

    As to the contention faintly urged on thepart of the respondent, that the fact thatholograph wills have no form and that theyneed not be dated from any place shows thatthey can be made anywhere, I need only saythat it is one that was propounded long agoby Ricard inter alios, whose opinion is sooften wrong says Troplong, no. 1463, buthas never been sustained by any court, and

    is repudiated expressly by the judgment inthe Pommereu case, 7 Journal Aud. 515, towhich I have already referred, where thatsame point had been explicitly taken, andMerlin calls it a "subtilit." The respondentcontends that the rule locus regit actum isabsurd and irrational. That may or may notbe. Laurent, 7 Dr. Intern. 10 et seq., andDespagnet, Journal de Dr. Intern. priv1890, think that it is the English rule that isabsurd. With this, however, clearly we arenot concerned.

    For these reasons I agree with the Courtof Queen's Bench (and we are unanimous onthis point I understand, though I have notseen my learned colleagues' opinions), thatunder the law of the province, consideredalone and without reference to the NewYork law, Ross's holograph will made inNew York is void.

    The Court of Queen's Bench, however,have maintained the validity of that willupon the ground that it was made accordingto the form. required by the law of NewYork and consequently valid under art. 7 of

    the Quebec Code and the rule locus regitactum. Now as a matter of fact alone, uponthe evidence in the record, I would say thatthis will is not made according to the formsrequired for wills in New York. The expertsexamined all agree that holograph wills areunknown to the New York law. That. shouldput an end to the controversy. But theconclusion reached by the Court of Queen'sBench on this branch of the case is basedupon art. 2611 of the New York Code ofProcedure by which it is decreed that:

    A will of personal estate, executed by aperson not a resident of the state accordingto the laws of the testator's residence, maybe admitted to probate.

    Therefore, they say, Ross's will is madein the New York form as to personal estate.

    I am unable to adopt this reasoning. Itrests entirely, it seems to me on a

    misconstruction or mis-application of theNew York statute. (I cite here the cases ofBrewer v. Freeman, 10 Moo. P.C. 306,Concha v. Muriette, 40 Ch. D. 543, and CityBank v. Barrow, 5 App. Cas. 664, as to theconstruction of a foreign code.) The grantingof the probate of a will made under a foreignlaw is not conclusive and does not regulateand affect the ultimate destination of theproperty; Jarman, vol. 1, 5th Eng. ed. 5; Inre Kirwan's Trusts, 25 Ch. D. 373; Barnes v.Vincent, 5 Moo. P.C. 201; Abston v.

    Abston, 15 La. An. 137; Atkinson v. Rogers,14 La. An. 633; and ancillary probate maybe granted of a will made according to thelaws of the foreign domicile of the testatorthough that will is invalid according to thelex fori, Jarman p. 5 et seq.

    In Thornton v. Curling for instance,reported in England in 8 Sim. 310, and in

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    France in Journal du Pal. 1826, 898,commented upon by the Vice Chancellor inPrice v. Dewhurst, 8 Sim. 300. Robertson onSucc. 287, the will there in question hadbeen made in England, in the English form,by a testator domiciled in France. That will

    was null according to English law, becausenot in the form required by the law of thetestator's domicile. Yet it was admitted toprobate in England, 2 Addams, 6, because itwas valid as to form in France according tothe rule locus regit though eventually theCour de Cassation in France held itsdispositions illegal under the French law.And such a course of dealing would befollowed under the same circumstances inNew York, I apprehend, as by art. 2624 ofthat same code, it is only of wills made in

    the State by residents of the State that theSurrogate determines the validity. By art.2694 it is expressly enacted that the validityof a will of any personal property situatedwithin the State is regulated by the laws ofthe State or country of which the decedentwas a resident at the time of his death. It isonly to personal estate in New York that thisarticle can have any application, and it islikewise only to personal estate in NewYork that art. 2611 is intended to apply. Itcannot, it is evident, have any application in

    the courts of any foreign country.

    The form that, under art. 7 of theQuebec Code declaration of the old law, hasto be followed by a Quebecer who makes awill in New York, is the form required bythe law of New York for wills by its ownsubjects, the form generally used in NewYork, as the last part of art. 999 of the CodeNapoleon reproducing the rule locus regitactum expresses in clear terms. And theNew York Legislature had not the power to

    alter that law for the province of Quebec,and to decree that a Quebecer could in NewYork make his will either according to hislex domicilii or to the lex loci actus, or toneither one nor the other, but according to amixture of both, at least so as to affectmovables in Quebec.

    It cannot be that the legislature of NewYork had the right to pass a statute in thefollowing terms: " Whereas by the law ofthe province of Quebec a holograph willmade in New York by a citizen of theprovince is invalid in Quebec; whereas it is

    expedient to provide otherwise; it is herebydecreed that hereafter such a will shall bevalid." Could such an enactment affectproperty in Quebec? I would say not, andthe New York legislature never intended todo so. To give to their statute the meaningthat the respondent contends for would be toextend it in a manner not justified by anyprinciple of law that I know of.

    The respondent, in other words, wouldargue, at least his argument leads to it, that

    though the legislature in Quebec has refusedto adopt the change in the law made in thisrespect as to holograph wills by art. 999 ofthe Code Napoleon or by art. 1588 of theLouisiana Code, yet the New Yorklegislature has done it for them.

    To so contend is evidently to forget thesovereignty of the province and of the law ofthe domicile of the testator in the matter andleads to a reasoning in a circle. And a saferule that I would apply here is the, one laid

    down by Lord Pepzance in a somewhatanalogous case, Pechell v. Hilderly, L.R. 1P. & D. 673, that in determining thequestion whether such a will is valid or not,regard can be had to the law of one countryalone at a time and the court will not mix upthe legal precepts of different countries. Thelaw of Quebec is exclusively the rule here.But were it necessary to make the inquiry, itseems to me established in the case that thewill would be held invalid in New York.

    Mr. Adams, one of the expertsexamined in the case, makes this point clearand I do not see that he is contradicted bythe other experts. As in England, in mattersof testate succession, when the will has beenmade by a person dying with a foreigndomicile, inquiry is made in New York, Iassume, with regard to the validity of thatwill by the law of the domicile and

  • 8/12/2019 Ross v Ross


    according to the result of such inquiry,probate of the will is granted or rejected.Art. 2694 New York Code of Procedure,Robertson on Success. 26; Abd-ul-Messih v.Farra 13 App. Cas. 431.

    Upon evidence that by the Quebec law aholograph will made in New York by acitizen of Quebec is not valid in Quebec totransmit property real or personal situated orto be found in Quebec if, by the New Yorklaw, holograph wills by citizens of NewYork are not valid in New York, this will inquestion here would not be admitted toprobate in New York.

    This art. 2611 of the New York Code ofProcedure does not cover this will as it

    applies only to a will of personal propertyexecuted by a person not a resident of theState according to the laws of the testator'sresidence. And Ross's will is not executedaccording to the laws of the testators'sresidence.

    It was said at the argument on the partof the respondent, this will is good by theQuebec law, it is also good by the New Yorklaw, why should it not be upheld? This is,however, but an assumption of the very

    question at issue. That is precisely what hasto be determined, whether this will is validor not; and to such an argument theappellants have only to answer, with notmore but with as much force, by saying thatas the will is bad in Quebec, and also bad inNew York, it cannot be upheld. If Ross hadleft personal estate in New York, and theNew York Court *upon contestation of hiswill had referred the, question of its validityto the Quebec court's, following the courseadopted by the Prerogative Court in England

    in de Bonneval's case, 1 Curteis 856, to havethe question settled by Ross's lex domicilii,the Quebec court's would have had toanswer, and the Court of Queen's Benchconcedes it, that by Ross's lex domicilli,alone and independently of the New Yorklaw, the rule locus regit actum imperativelygoverns, and that this will by that law istherefore null; that by the Quebec law a

    Quebecer, who in New York desires to makea will disposing of either movables orimmovables, or both, in Quebec, must do soaccording to the New York forms. And as aholograph will is not in the New York form,that would have been the end of the

    controversy, as art. 2694 of the New YorkCode of Procedure, above referred to,expressly says that as to personal estate it isby Ross's lex domicilii that, in New York,the validity of his will is to be concluded. Iutterly fail to understand the import of therule locus regit actum, if it does not mean,adapting it to this case, that a Quebecer whodesires when in New York to make a willhas to make it according to the formrequired by the law of New York for its ownsubjects; or to put it in other words, if a will

    in the holograph form made by a NewYorker in New York is void under the NewYork law in New York, a Quebecer's will inthat form made in New York is also void inQuebec, which is Ross's lex domicilii.

    This art. 26 1.1 of the New York Code,relied upon by the Court of Queen's Benchto maintain this will, requires no form at allfor any will in the sense that the word"requires" bears in art. 7 of the QuebecCode. It is a mere enabling enactment as to

    probate when a foreign testator has leftpersonalty in the State of New York. Theform that is required by the New York lawfor New York citizens for a will made in theState of New York is the form derived fromthe English law of a will before, witnesses.All that this article of the Code of Procedureenacts is that a will made by a non-residentof the State of movables to be