Irish Law Reform Commission Report on Prevention of Benefit from 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.