REF 2021 Impact Case Study: Clarifying the Law of Donatio Mortis Causa and Reform of the Law of Wills


Description of impact

This case study demonstrates how Juliet Brook has influenced, and is continuing to influence, reform of the law of wills. The Law Commission has consulted on the reform of the Wills Act 1837, which is seen by many as in need of modernisation. The restrictions on contact due to the Covid-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the practical difficulties some face in making a valid will, and has increased the urgency of this reform.

The research underpinning this case study has influenced the clarification by the Court of Appeal of the common law doctrine of donatio mortis causa, which governs oral “death bed wills” that do not comply the formal testamentary requirements (and could thus be important in future litigation involving Covid victims or people in a like situation). (Impact 1)

In addition, it has informed the Law Commission’s Family, Property and Trusts Law team in the preparation of their consultation paper on reforming the law of wills, and has assisted in their on-going development of policy in this area, in particular the proposed introduction of a dispensing power. (Impact 2)
Impact statusOpen
Impact date2015


  • REF2021