Case Brief Wiki


Reuben Wells Leonard died and left money in trust to create scholarships for students at institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom. He limited the recipients to white protestant people who would help the expansion of the British Empire. He went on to talk about how white protestant people were the best fitted individuals to do this, and that their race was supreme:

WHEREAS the Settlor believes that the White Race is, as a whole, best qualified by nature to be entrusted with the development of civilization and the general progress of the World along the best lines:

The scholarships were offered on these terms for a number of years, but eventually the Ontario Human Rights Commission applied to have these conditions stricken, as they were contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code and public policy. They were unsuccessful at trial and appealed.


  1. Do these terms make the condition void for public policy reasons?


Appeal allowed; conditions void for reasons of public policy.


The justices all agree that these conditions must be void for public policy reasons, regardless of whether or not they violate the Human Rights Code. However, they make it clear that not all charitable trusts that limit the class of beneficiaries are void for policy reasons, as some aim to provide amelioration of inequality. They state that it is clear from the Charter and provincial/federal human rights acts that discrimination is contrary to public policy. They say that these discriminative conditions cannot be separated from the ameliorative purpose of the money in general, and therefore they must be voided. They also state that this is only void for public policy reasons and not uncertainty, as the conditions are quite certain and have been effective for some time.

They also make clear that this decision does not affect private family trusts, as they are not subject to public policy. However, this charitable trust is used in a public realm and therefore must be consistent with public policy.


  • Charitable trusts that give sums of money for purposes that fall into the public sphere must not violate public policy or these violating conditions will be void.
  • Preventing discrimination is in line with public policy.
  • Public policy does not govern private family matters in wills.