Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Reconstruing future conditionality in English jurisprudence : revealing ancient purposes for common law ‘lives in being’

Pratt, Simon D.


Simon D. Pratt


Grant Stirling


This thesis offers a reassessment of conditionality and perpetuity in English jurisprudence. Here, Chapters 1 to 3 lay important conceptual and historical foundations by exploring how external juristic and philosophical traditions influenced the early common law and the fault- lines which let those influences pass largely unnoticed. From this, Chapter 4 focuses on Avicenna’s application of ancient Greek, Roman, Neoplatonic and Classical Islamic scholarship to produce a creationist theory of ‘thingness’ of great relevance to understanding how a coherent benchmark of conditionality is provided by a ‘life in being’ under England’s Rule Against Perpetuities. Here, that new understanding is rooted in more ancient concepts – notions of causation and necessity – which demonstrate how the Rule pursues objectives of causal certainty, rather than socio-economic policy compromise. This is important to modern scholarship because it also helps answer still-unresolved questions about the selection of any such life. Furthermore, beginning with the Bracton authors, long-standing principles of annexation provide the overarching ‘splint’ or ‘bridge’ which connects a necessary cause with its posited final effect. Indeed, the law of determinable fees is applied to show how the annexation of a living person supplies the necessitated condition which runs with the gift to create a valid common law interest. Chapter 5 assesses this new ‘Necessary Life’ hypothesis alongside modern ‘measuring lives’ theories. Ultimately, it is concluded that the selection of a measuring life is better understood and more reliably applied in a revised definitional formula which proposes – ‘A non-vested interest is void at inception unless the death of one person then-living necessarily causes its ipso facto determination within the following twenty- one years’. If so, modern perpetuity reforms have suffered at the hands of misunderstanding the Rule’s founding purposes and disregarding the Aristotelian logic which is argued to be implicit in its true modus operandi.


Pratt, S. D. (2021). Reconstruing future conditionality in English jurisprudence : revealing ancient purposes for common law ‘lives in being’. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 8, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Law
Public URL
Additional Information Law School, The University of Hull
Award Date Mar 1, 2021


Thesis (3.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2021 Pratt, Simon D. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations