LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Professor Robert Chambers
Intercollegiate teaching: No
Teaching Method: 20 x two-hour seminars
Who may enrol: LLM students, Other UCL Masters students
Prerequisites: None
Barred module combinations: This module cannot be taken with its component LAWSG134A.
Core module for specialism: International Banking and Finance Law, International Commercial Law
Practice Assessment: 3 hour ‘take-home’ Moodle exam in December
Assessment method for Masters students: Unseen eight-hour take-home written examination
Module Overview

Module summary

This module is a study of the use of the trust in the modern world of private estate planning and commercial transactions. Part I of the module covers the modern law of private trusts, that is, the use of the trust in managing family wealth, with particular emphasis on developments in the ‘offshore’ world’. Part II of the module covers the use of the trust in a variety of commercial transactions. Part III of the module is an exploration of the conceptual nature of the trust and the way in which it does or does not form a coherent part of the law of property, or the law of obligations, or both.

By the end of the module, students should: (a) have a solid understanding of the way that the trust device is used to manage family wealth and the various functions it may perform, such as to avoid probate or protect assets; (b) have a solid grasp of the issues that arise in respect of controlling trustee discretions, the rights of the objects of trusts, and the questions surrounding purpose trusts; (c) a solid understanding of the use of trusts in several important kinds of commercial transaction, and the differences that may exist between the rights, powers, and duties of trustees of commercial trusts as opposed to their family trust counterparts; and finally, (d) a sophisticated appreciation of the conceptual questions raised by the express trust and the different ways in which those questions have been addressed.

Module syllabus

This overview of topics is indicative only; particular topics may change from year to year:
The Modern Law of Private Trusts: Epress Trusts and Powers; Control of trustee discretions; Frauds on powers; Irreducible Core Elements of an Express Trust; The Offshore World and its Trusts; Purpose Trusts; Protectors; Letters of Wishes; Nomineeship and ‘sham’ dispositions; Asset Protection Trusts; Trust in the Conflict of Laws
Commercial Trusts: Bond Trusts and Trustees; The Trust in Asset Securitisation and Intermediated Securities; Quistclose Trusts; Trusts and Commercial Equity; Pension Trustees
The Nature of the Trust: Trusts and Funds; Trusts and Equity; Civilian Conceptions of the Trust

Recommended materials

There is no textbook suitable for the entire module, but J E Penner, The Law of Trusts 8th Ed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) provides suitable background reading for many course topics.

Preliminary reading

If you have not studied trusts before, or if you have but feel a bit rusty on the subject, the first three chapters of J E Penner, The Law of Trusts 8th Ed. (Oxford: OUP, 2012) are recommended.

For those interested in an historical introduction to the trust, D Waters, ‘The Trust: Continual Evolution of a Centuries-Old Idea’ [2007] Journal of International Trust and Corporate Planning 207 (available online from Lexis), is quite detailed, but readable.

Other information

Summative assessment will be by way of a Moodle 8-hour ‘take home’ examination

Prizes for this module: Pump Court Tax Chambers Prize


The application process for the 2014-15 academic session, for entry in September 2014, is now closed.

Information regarding applications for September 2015 will be updated on the website in September 2014.

IMPORTANT NOTICE : Updated 28 May 2014

The Home Office issued an update about the acceptance of ETS tests (including TOEFL). They have now confirmed that Higher Education students applying for a Tier 4 visa may use a TOEFL test taken after 17 April, if a Higher Education Institution is willing to use its academic discretion. For those students entering in September 2014, UCL will continue to accept the TOEFL even if it was taken after 17 April. However, if an applicant still needs to book a test then we recommend that they take an alternative test to TOEFL. Those who have already arranged to take a different test following the previous advice from the Home Office, we encourage you to go ahead with taking the alternative test.

The TOEFL test will continue to be accepted for 2014 entrants who have been asked to take an English language qualification as part of their offer condition, and do not need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.