• In the case of Grey v IRC [1960] AC 1, it was found that after giving the natural meaning to ‘disposition’ under section 53(1)(c) of the Law of Property Act 1925, an oral direction made to the trustee may constitute transfer of an equitable interest.

Facts of Grey v IRC [1960] AC 1

  • H (settlor) made 6 settlements for each of his grandchildren
  • He transferred the trustee appellants shares in the company to hold on trust for him
  • He then orally directed the appellants to hold those shares upon the trusts made for the 6 grandchildren
  • Acceptance of the oral direction and to give the direction execution, a deed was made

Issues in Grey v IRC [1960] AC 1

  • Does this constitute the disposition an equitable interest under section 53(1)(c) of the Law of Property Act 1925, making stamp duty payable?

Held by the House of Lords

  • Affirmed the Court of Appeal decision, dismissing the appeal. The oral dispositions made by H were given their natural meaning under section 53(1)(c) and did cause a transfer of the equitable interests. Even if such did not comply with the section, the later created declaration effectively complied and disposed H’s interest, thus making stamp duty payable.

Viscount Simmonds

Using the natural meaning of ‘disposition’ an oral declaration cannot constitute such transfer

  • “If the word “disposition” is given its natural meaning, it cannot, I think, be denied that a direction given by Mr. Hunter, whereby the beneficial interest in the shares theretofore vested in him became vested in another or others, is a disposition.” [13]

It is not necessary to consider giving the term ‘disposition’ a narrower meaning, as was argued by the appellants

  • “contended by the appellants that the word “disposition” is to be given a narrower meaning and (so far as relates to inter vivos transactions) be read as if it were synonymous with “grants and assignments” and that, given this meaning, it does not cover such a direction as was given in this case. … there is no justification for giving the word “disposition” a narrower meaning than it ordinarily bears, it will be unnecessary to discuss the interesting problem that would otherwise arise.” [13]