This section is from the book "Real Property, An Introductory Explanation Of The Law Relating To Land", by Alfred F Topham. Also available from Amazon: The New Law Of Property.
Equitable estates were disliked by the great lords because they enabled services to be defeated and lands to be conveyed into mortmain.
(c) This can now be done, without resorting to a use, by s. 50 of the Conveyancing Act, 1881.
They therefore obtained the passing of the Statute of Uses (27 Hen. VIII c. 10) the object of which was to destroy equitable estates.
This was done by enacting that whoever had the beneficial use or trust of the land should also take the legal estate, no matter to whom the legal estate was conveyed by the words of the deed.
It was thus thought that it would be impossible for one person to have the legal estate and another the equitable estate. The first section of the statute, omitting some of the words, was as follows: -
Statute of Uses. Sect. I.
"Where any person or persons stand seised of any lands to the use, trust, or confidence of any other person, persons, or of any body politic, all such person, persons, or body politic that have any such use, trust, or confidence, in fee simple or otherwise, shall stand and be seised and deemed in lawful seisin and possession of the same lands of and in such like estates as they had in use, trust, or confidence of or in the same."
In other words, when A holds a freehold in .trust for B, for any estate, B's estate shall be the legal estate. Thus, if land is granted to A and his heirs in trust for B and his heirs, B gets the legal estate in fee simple, and A gets nothing.
The immediate result of this statute was to destroy equitable estates; services could not be avoided, lands could not be granted to corporations or conveyed by will, Dower could not be avoided; but in case of a grant of land by A to B to the use of his wife, the effect was to vest the legal estate in the wife; thus the statute enabled the legal estate to be conveyed in some cases where it could not be conveyed before.
Points to note in the Act. It is one of the most important of all statutes affecting land even at the present day, although it has by no means the same effect as was intended.
(1) "Where any person shall stand seised."
The Act does not apply unless one person is seised, i.e. holds a freehold in trust for another.
Thus, the statute will not apply if land is granted to B for 100 years in trust for A for life: B therefore has the legal estate.
(2) "In fee simple or otherwise."
If the person to whom the land is granted has the freehold, the statute will apply, whatever is the nature of the estate in the trust.
Thus, if land is granted to B for life (i.e. freehold) in trust for A for 100 years (leasehold), the statute will apply, and A gets the legal estate for 100 years (if B lives so long).
(3) "Any other person."
The statute does not apply when a person is seised to the use of himself.
Thus, if land is granted " unto A to the use of A," or more shortly, "unto and to the use of A " (d), the statute does not apply, and the legal estate passes to A by virtue of the words "Unto A." The addition of the words " to the use of" simply show that A is to have the use or benefit of the land, and that it is not to "result" to the grantor.
(4) "or body politic."
A "hody politic" means a corporation.
The statute applies when land is granted to a person to the use of a corporation; but not where it is granted to a corporation to the use of a person.
E.g. "to A and his heirs to the use of Cambridge University." The statute applies and the legal estate vests in the university. But, in case of a gift "to Cambridge University to the use of
(d) This is the usual form of a grant at the present day.
A and his heirs," the statute does not apply, and the legal estate vests in the university in trust for A and his heirs.
(5) "shall be deemed to be in possession."
Whenever the statute applies, the person who has the use, not only gets the legal estate, but is deemed to be in actual possession of the land, although he may never have been near it.
(6) The statute does not apply to an active trust.
An "active" or "special" trust is a trust which imposes active duties on the trustees, i.e. a trust to do something.
Baler v. White (1875), L. E. 20 Eq. 166.
Land was devised by will to E. Baker and G. Parson and their heirs upon trust " to receive the rents and profits thereof and pay the same unto my son James, or to permit him to receive them."
Held, (1) if the will means that the trustees are to collect the rents and pay them to James, the trustees have the legal estate, as it would then be an active trust.
(2) If it means that they are to Jet him take them, James has the legal estate, as it would then be a passive trust.
(3) In a will the latter of two alternative directions prevails and therefore the legal estate is in James.