The Cambridge Law Journal

Research Article

Perpetuities and the Act of 1964

S. J. Bailey

The rule against perpetuities, it will be remembered, (a) fixed a permissible perpetuity period, namely, the duration of lives in being plus twenty-one years plus (where relevant) the period of gestation, and (b) prescribed that every contingent interest in property is void ab initio if there is any possibility that the contingency may occur after the perpetuity period has expired. A contingent gift or interest is one which depends upon the happening of some event which may never happen—e.g., a gift “to the first child of Elsie who shall swim the Channel.” In this example two contingencies are involved: (i) being born and (ii) swimming the Channel. But (i) is bound to happen, if at all, within Elsie's lifetime; and so (unlike (ii)) it cannot cause the gift to be void for perpetuity.