Cy Pres Doctrine – Definition

Cite this article as:"Cy Pres Doctrine – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated September 15, 2019, last accessed October 24, 2020,


Cy Pres Doctrine Definition

Cy pres doctrine is a legal concept that has its origin in an old French saying “cy pres comme possible” translated as “as near as possible.” In legal terms, Cy pres doctrine allows a court to amend or interpret the terms of a charitable trust, a will or a gift, especially when the intended terms are impractical or illegal. Cy pres doctrine grants the court the power to interpret the terms of the charitable trust “as closely as possible” to the initial intention of the testator or settlor.

Cy pres doctrine was first used in the court of equity, it is a legal concept that allows the court to amend or give as near as possible to the terms of  a charitable trust that are legally impossible to interpret.

A Little More on What is the Cy Pres Doctrine

Cy pres doctrine was first used in 1986 in the distribution of settlement funds which often arise when a trust is non distributable. Cy pres doctrine is commonly used when the terms of an original document cannot be legally interpreted or carried out. Such a document is declared null and void but with the provision of Cy pres doctrine, such a document can be given another interpretation close to the original. Cy pres is often used for a will, charitable trust or gift. Rather than terminate a charitable trust or will which is impossible to perform, Cy pres doctrine allows the court amend the terms in a way that they can be legally implemented.

Reference for “Cy Pres Doctrine”ès_doctrine

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