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Allcard v Skinner

[1887] 36 Ch 145

Case summary last updated at 04/01/2020 18:27 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Allcard v Skinner

P joined a convent and agreed to give all her property to the convent in her will. She later left the convent and claimed back the property pledged to the convent, stating that she had assigned it under undue influence. CA held that although P was subject to the undue influence of D, her delay in reclaiming her property amounted to a delay. 

 Cotton LJ: There are two cases where undue influence can be raised: (1) where the gift was the result of another’s influence,. Expressly used for that purpose, OR (2) where the relations between P and D at the time or shortly before the time of the gift raise a presumption that the donee had influence over the donor. Unless the donor gave the gift in circumstances where he could genuinely exercise free will, the gift is set aside. 

Lindley LJ: There are two classes of undue influence: (1) where there has been unfair/improper conduct/coercion/cheating on the part of the donee who is in a confidential relationship with the donor. (2) Were the duty of the donee is to advise the donor or manage his property for him. In scenario 2 the burden of proof is on D to show that he has not abused his position of trust. This case fell into scenario 2 (despite being affirmed later on) because P was absolutely in D’s power, was not allowed to consult externs etc and therefore could not give the gift except by D’s influence. 

McKendrick: In this case the CA is “presuming undue influence” i.e. they look to the circumstances and say that in this case there could not have been a freely made gift. This is not the same as actual undue influence. 

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