THE STATUTE OF USES (27 Hen 8 c 10) was an Act of the Parliament of
England that restricted the application of uses in English property
law. The Statute was originally conceived by
Henry VIII of England as
a way to rectify his financial problems by simplifying the law of
uses, which moved land outside the royal tax revenue, traditionally
gathered through seisin . His initial efforts, which would remove uses
almost completely, were stymied at the 1529 Parliament by members of
the House of Commons , many of whom were landowners (who would lose
money) and lawyers (who benefited in fees from the confusing law on
uses). Academics disagree on how the Commons were brought around, but
an eventual set of bills introduced in 1535 was passed by both the
Lords and Commons in 1536.
The eventual bills invalidated all uses that did not impose an active
duty on trustees, with the beneficiaries of the use being held as the
legal owners of the land, meaning they had to pay tax. The Statute
partially led to the
Pilgrimage of Grace
Pilgrimage of Grace , and more importantly the
development of trusts , but academics disagree as to its
effectiveness. While most agree that it was important, with Eric Ives
writing that "the effect which its provisions had upon the development
of English land law was revolutionary", some say that by allowing
uses and devises in certain areas it not only failed to remove the
fraudulent element from land law but actively encouraged it.
* 1 Background
* 2 Passage and text of the Statute
* 3 Impact and aftermath
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Bibliography
* 8 External links
The common law of England did not provide for a way to dispose of
land held by feudal tenure through wills, only urban land, and
instead uses were applied, which allowed a landowner to give his land
to one or more feoffees , to dispose of it or treat it as the original
landowner provided. It was viewed with distrust due to the possibility
Edward Coke wrote that "there were two Inventors of Uses,
Fear and Fraud; Fear in Times of Troubles and civil Wars to save their
Inheritances from being forfeited; and Fraud to defeat due Debts,
lawful Actions, Wards, Escheats, Mortmains etc". With as many as 13
of such feoffees, there was much confusion over the title to land
following a lord's death, as evidenced by the case of Sir John Fastolf
, which lasted from 1459 to 1476. While this was a problem that
needed correcting, the actual motivation of the Statute was not to do
so, but instead to bolster the finances of Henry VIII . For several
years prior to the Statute, Henry had been struggling with the need to
raise revenue; his royal lands did not provide enough, loans and
benevolences would have destroyed his personal popularity; as a
result, simply increasing the size of his royal lands was the best
option. He turned his attention to land law, arguably the most well
developed and complex parts of the common law, and sought to reform it
to further his aims. This was well-aimed, since it was uses that were
destroying his income; the royal revenue was traditionally gathered
through seisin , which uses completely ignored.
Two bills were drawn up to be submitted to Parliament in 1529. The
first, which took note of "grate trobull, vexacion, and unquietness
amonges the kynges suggettes for tytyll of londes, tenements, and
other heriditamentes as well by intayle as by uses and forgyng of
false evidence", was a radical and "drastic" act bill that would have
removed uses completely (unless registered at the Court of King\'s
Bench or Court of Common Pleas ) and abolished entails "so that all
manner of possessions be in state of fee simple from this day forward
for ever", although barons and above were allowed entails; in
addition, nobody was allowed to buy such land without the king's
licence. These measures were to obtain the support of the nobility
for the second bill, which gave the King wardship over all the land
held by noble orphans. When the orphan came of age and asked for the
return of the lands, the king was to have a year's revenue from a
third of those lands. While this plan was acceptable to barons and
other senior nobles, it required passing by the House of Commons . The
large landowners in the Commons felt that it prohibited them from
making secure wills, while the lawyers saw it as stripping valuable
business away from them by simplifying such cases; with these groups
making up the majority of Parliament, these plans came to nothing.
The Parliament of 1532 saw another attempt by Henry to push the bill
through, but it again met resistance; while the support of the
nobility was valuable, it was useless in the Commons. Henry instead
sought to appeal to one of the two opposition groups, and picked the
lawyers. Many lawyers admitted that the uses made fraud easy and open,
and in addition the lawyers of the common law were jealous of the
Court of Chancery
Court of Chancery 's equitable jurisdiction, and sought to strip it
away. As a result, Henry decided to bring them over to his side by
frightening them, listening to a petition against court procedure and
lawyers' fees, and openly musing about putting a clause in the draft
bills that would fix the amount they could charge; Holdsworth argues
that this was the reason the lawyers chose to ally with Henry, and the
reason for the Statute's passage. John Bean disagrees, arguing first
that many lawyers were landowners, and would have lost more personally
than any reduction in fees could have produced, and second that even
if they had been convinced, it is unlikely that lawyers made up a
majority of the Commons and could have pushed a bill through alone.
PASSAGE AND TEXT OF THE STATUTE
In 1535, three draft bills were presented to Parliament concerning
uses and wills, along with one concerning Enrolments. It is from
these bills that the
Statute of Uses
Statute of Uses and the succeeding Statute of
Enrolments came. The three bills on uses suggested two different ways
to deal with the problem. The first proposed severely limiting the
situation in which uses could arise, with uses having no legal effect
apart from that expressed when they were created. No contract or
bargain over land could change the use of that land; anyone who
suffered from the breach of such a contract had limited remedies in
the courts. While this scheme would have prevented most of the evils
of uses, it would also have submitted property law to the common law
and limited other, beneficial developments; it would also not stop the
practice of getting rid of land through a devise , doing nothing to
alleviate the King's financial concerns. The second, and more complex
suggestion, was contained in the other two bills on uses. This simply
removed the idea of an equitable interest in land, leaving only the
idea of a legal interest, and left uses, maintaining the elastic and
variable nature of property law rather than submitting it to the
more-rigid standards of the common law . Parliament eventually
accepted the second idea, and the bill was passed in April 1536 as the
Statute of Uses
Statute of Uses (27 Hen.8 c.10). As such, all uses were invalid
except for those that imposed an active duty on a trustee, and the
beneficiaries of the use were held to be the legal owners, paying tax
as a result.
The STATUTE OF USES also provided that a widow was not to have both
jointure and dower as was made possible by the Statute.
IMPACT AND AFTERMATH
Most immediately, the Statute partially led to the Pilgrimage of
Grace , where rebels demanded not only an end to Henry's religious
changes but an abandonment of the Statute. More importantly, the
Statute led to the development of the trust as a replacement. While
the Statute is believed to have led to the abolition of devises (and
this was certainly the King's intent),
Robert Megarry argues that it
failed in doing so. A feoffment "to the use of such person and
persons, and of such estate and estates as I shall appoint by my will"
produced a use without formally creating a legal estate; the land was
held on a lease, rather than freehold. As a result, it was unaffected
by the Statute of Uses, which banned all other methods. Because of
this, Megarry argues that not only did it keep devises intact, it gave
it power in the common law as well as under equity . The precise aims
of the Statute (that the law of property be made more open) was
reversed by its impact, which made it far easier to convey property
Academic assessment of the Statute was initially disparaging, with
some saying that it added at most "three words to a conveyance", but
it was understood to be important by lawyers of the time and in the
modern era. Decades later, both
Francis Bacon and
Edward Coke gave
readings on it, while
William Holdsworth called it "perhaps the most
important addition that the legislature has ever made to our private
Eric Ives writing that "the importance of the Statute of
Uses is beyond doubt. The effect its provisions had on English land
law development was revolutionary, and from it have grown the crucial
doctrines of the trust".
The whole Act was declared, by section 1 of, and Schedule 1 to, the
Law of Property (Amendment) Act 1924 , to have been repealed by the
Law of Property Act 1922 .
The whole Act was repealed by section 207 of, and Schedule 7 to, the
Law of Property Act 1925
Law of Property Act 1925 . The repeal of the Statutes of Uses did not
affect the operation thereof in regard to dealings taking effect
before the commencment of the
Law of Property Act 1925
Law of Property Act 1925 .
* Law of England and Wales portal
Quia Emptores (1290)
Statute of Wills (1540)
Statute of Frauds (1677)
* ^ The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by
section 1 of, and Schedule 1 to, the
Short Titles Act 1896 . Due to
the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2)
Interpretation Act 1978
Interpretation Act 1978 .
* ^ A B Ives (1967) p.673
* ^ Turner (1968) p.198
* ^ Ives (1967) p.674
* ^ Turner (1916) p.441
* ^ A B Holdsworth (1912) p.108
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.110
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.111
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.112
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.113
* ^ Bean (1968) p.272
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.114
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.115
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.116
* ^ Holdsworth (1912) p.118
* ^ Ives (1967) p.675
* ^ Helewitz (2008) p.87
* ^ Gough (1985) p.25
* ^ Ives (1967) p.679
* ^ Durfee (1918) p.87
* ^ Megarry (1941) p.354
* ^ Mossman (2004) p.313
* ^ Megarry (1941) p.356
* ^ Megarry (1941) p.360
* ^ Digby (2005) p.347
* ^ The
Law of Property Act 1925
Law of Property Act 1925 , section 1(10)
* Bean, John Malcolm William (1968). The decline of English
Manchester University Press . ISBN
* Digby, Kenelm (2005). An Introduction To The History Of The Law Of
Real Property: With Original Authorities. Lawbook Exchange. ISBN
* Durfee, E. N. (1918). "The
Statute of Uses
Statute of Uses and Active Trusts".
Michigan Law Review
Michigan Law Review .
University of Michigan Law School . 17 (1). ISSN
* Gough, John Wiedhofft (1985). Fundamental law in English
constitutional history. Wm. S. Hein Publishing. ISBN 0-8377-2205-5 .
* Helewitz, Jeffrey A. (2008). Basic Wills, Trusts, and Estates for
Paralegals (4th ed.). Aspen Publishers Online. ISBN 0-7355-7119-8 .
* Holdsworth, William (1912). "The Political Causes Which Shaped the
Statute of Uses".
Harvard Law Review
Harvard Law Review .
Harvard Law School . 26 (2).
ISSN 0017-811X .
* Ives, E.W. (1967). "The Genesis of the Statute of Uses". The
English Historical Review .
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press . 82 (325):
673–697. doi :10.1093/ehr/lxxxii.cccxxv.673 . ISSN 0013-8266 .
* Megarry, Robert (1941). "The
Statute of Uses
Statute of Uses and the Power to
Cambridge Law Journal .
Cambridge University Press . 7 (3).
ISSN 0008-1973 .
* Mossman, Mary Jane (2004). Property law: cases and commentary (2nd
ed.). Emond Montgomery Publication. ISBN 1-55239-121-3 .
* Turner, Chas. W. (1916). "Uses before the Statute of Uses".
Virginia Law Review.
University of Virginia School of Law
University of Virginia School of Law . 3 (6).
ISSN 0042-6601 .
* Turner, Ralph V. (1968). The king and his courts; the role of John