Currently under Jersey law, a person who is under the age of 18 years is classed as a minor and does not have legal capacity to transact in immovable property or enter into contracts, save for the purchase of everyday necessities. If a minor inherits, is gifted or wishes to disclaim immovable property, a tuteur must be appointed to deal with the property. The tuteur is nominated by a body of 7 électeurs (of whom the tuteur may be one) known collectively as a tutelle (the “Tutelle”). The Tutelle protects the interests and manages the affairs of the minor before they reach the age of 18. At 18, the individual is regarded as an adult and can manage his own affairs.
The establishment of the Tutelle and its administration under the current system is considered to be cumbersome and antiquated and a new law to update the procedure has been passed. The Children's Property and Tuteurs (Jersey) Law 2016 (the "Tuteurs Law") comes into force on 22 August 2016. The Tuteurs Law will make the process clearer, less expensive and more suitable for modern families.
The Tuteurs Law will introduce the following changes:
• the abolition of the role of the électeurs;
• the tuteur will be appointed by the Royal Court only;
• only a natural person may be appointed as a tuteur; and
• the Royal Court will have a supervisory function and will have the power to give directions on aspects of the administration by the tuteur such as: (i) the tuteur's responsibility for the minor's property; (ii) restrictions on the tuteur's powers; (iii) removal of the tuteur; and (iv) transfer of the administration of the minor's property.
A tuteur must be appointed by the Royal Court in connection with:
• all immovable property that is owned or due to a minor, irrespective of value; and
• movable property owned by the minor if the value exceeds £25,000 (a tuteur need not be, but may be, appointed if the movable property is worth less than £25,000).
An application for the appointment of a tuteur must be made in the Royal Court. An application can be made by:
• a parent or relative of the minor;
• a guardian of the minor;
• a creditor of the minor;
• the Attorney General; or
• any other person with leave of the Court.
As is currently the case, the position of tuteur will cease when the minor attains the age of 18 years, dies or the tuteur is discharged from office by the Royal Court.
The Tuteurs Law is to be welcomed as removing the cumbersome nature of the Tutelle, providing greater oversight of the tuteur but also giving the tuteur greater flexibility in the management of a minor's property.