The Rule in Shelley's Case is a rule of law that may apply to certain future interests in real property and trusts created in common law jurisdictions.:181 It was applied as early as 1366 in The Provost of Beverly's Case:182 but in its present form is derived from Shelley's Case (1581), in which counsel stated the rule as follows:
…when the ancestor by any gift or conveyance takes an estate of freehold, and in the same gift or conveyance an estate is limited either mediately or immediately to his heirs in fee simple or in fee tail; that always in such cases, 'the heirs' are words of limitation of the estate, not words of purchase.:181
The Rule was reported by Lord Coke in England in the 17th century as well-settled law. In England, it was abolished by the Law of Property Act 1925. During the twentieth century, it was abolished in most common law jurisdictions, including the majority of the United States. However, in states where the abrogation has been interpreted to apply only to conveyances made after abrogation, the relevance of the Rule today varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and in many states remains unclear.:190–1
The Rule is still in operation in all Canadian jurisdictions with the exception of Quebec, which uses civil law, and Manitoba, though it has made an appearance in case law only a few times in the last century.