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Response or Comment

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In some recent cases we have fresh reminder of the futility of Sir William Grant's distinction between original and substitutional gifts, a rule over which courts have quarreled and disagreed ever since it was promulgated, and which never was applied to the exclusion of anyone without disappointing the wish of the testator. In speaking of this rule in Re Hickey, [1917], 1 Ch. D. 601, 604, Neville, J., says: "The alleged principle seems to be that the meaning of the word 'substitute' involves the idea of replacing one thing by another. One cannot 'substitute' something for nothing. The proposition appears to me axiomatic but not very illuminating. If the testator uses the word its meaning must affect the construction of his will; but where the court uses it, it is merely a mode of expressing a view of the construction already formed."