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Judith Bray


As the editors observe at the start of this book, the law on succession is a “neglected field”in England whilst Continental and comparative lawyers have rediscovered it to be of immense practical importance which deserves greater academic attention. The rules of succession are of great significance to all; as pointed out by Penelope Reed in Chapter Seven there is no shortage of probate disputes that end up in the Chancery Division as a result of “… an ageing population, the increase in the incidence of dementia and the rise of house prices making estates worth fighting over…”  Since death is inevitable and everyone will die either testate, having made a valid will or intestate, without a valid will the law of succession affects us all. In order to address this gap in the law a conference took place in July 2015 at All Souls College Oxford attended by Chancery Judges, a member of the Court of Appeal as well as a number of leading academics and practitioners. This book comprises eleven of the conference papers. The result is an excellent book both as a reference work for students and practitioners and also of interest to the wider public who may be drawn in by the subject matter and possibly the picture on the loose leaf cover showing David Wilkie’s well-known painting Reading of the Will. In many ways the most engaging feature of this collection is the breadth of subjects covered. They range from the more traditional succession issues such as the reform of the rules of intestacy in Chapter One and Mutual Wills in Chapter Five to the more challenging issues of Testamentary dispositions in favour of informal carers in Chapter Eight and Proprietary Estoppel in Chapter Four. Much credit should be given to the conference organisers and book editors for ensuring that the conference and later the book had sufficient breadth and did not dwell overly on the minutiae of the rules of drawing up a valid will although that said Chapter Four shows how this in itself embraces many wider legal issues.

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