The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has released a Report on Prevention of Benefit from Homicide
that recommends comprehensive legislative reform to prevent a person from benefitting from his or her wrongdoing, especially an act of homicide.
The recommendations are intended to prevent an offender benefitting, whether
under a joint tenancy or, for example, a life insurance policy or a
pension. The Report contains a draft Bill to implement the
recommendations in the Report.
A joint tenancy is a type of co-ownership of property, often arranged
between spouses. Where one of the spouses dies, the entire interest in
the property automatically passes to the surviving joint owner who
becomes full owner. The property held in a joint tenancy does not become
part of the deceased joint owner's estate because ownership
automatically vests in the surviving co-owner.
This legal consequence, called the right of survivorship, applies even
where, as in Cawley v Lillis, the surviving co-owner has killed his or
her spouse; and the High Court (Laffoy J) decided that, under the
current law, the interest of the deceased should be held by the
surviving spouse - the killer - in trust for the deceased’s daughter.
The Court also suggested that the law in this area should be reviewed,
and the Report being published today has done this.
The report examined case law and legislation from other jurisdictions, including Canada, the USA, Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Labels: comparative and foreign law, criminal law, government_Ireland, law commissions, wills and estates