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Human rights in Jersey


Meryl Thomas


Under Jersey law, the right to inherit property was historically affected by factors such as the legitimacy of a child and the gender of a spouse. Research in the School of Law, which was commissioned by the Jersey Community Relations Trust, concluded that these laws were discriminatory and as a result the law was amended.


The Jersey Community Relations Trust commissioned Professor Meryl Thomas of the School of Law to consider whether the succession laws in the Island complied with the Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000. Professor Thomas found that:

  • The Legitimacy (Jersey) Law 1973, which grants the illegitimate child rights of succession only in relation to the mother's estate, is discriminatory in nature.
  • Where inheritance rights are granted to widows and widowers they must be equivalent or broadly similar, and inheritance rights that are historically based on sex in Jersey violated the Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000.

A report, entitled 'Human Rights and the Law of Succession in Jersey' was published, and later Professor Thomas published a book entitled 'Testate and Intestate Succession'.

Who benefits

As a result of this research, the Wills and Successions (Jersey) Law 2010 was amended twice:

  1. To grant an illegitimate child the same rights of inheritance as a legitimate child (came into force January 2011)
  2. To make the property rights of male and female spouses equal. This was also later granted to surviving civil partners (came into force February 2012)

Find out more

Download the full impact case study submitted to REF 2014

Our research has had a direct impact on human rights law in Jersey.