UCL Faculty of Laws


The Future of Resulting Trusts

01 December 2016, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Clasped Hands

Event Information

Open to



Current Legal Problems 2016-17


UCL Darwin Lecture Theatre, Darwin Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Speaker: Professor John Mee (University College Cork)
Chair: Mr Justice Morgan (High Court Judge)
Admission: Free
Accreditation: This event is accredited with 1 CPD hour with the SRA and BSB
Series: Current Legal Problems 2016-17

About the lecture

While it is easy to understand the role of express trusts in our law, it is more difficult to explain the existence of two distinct categories of non-express trust, constructive and resulting trusts. This paper will consider the basis of the various types of resulting trust – the purchase-money resulting trust, the voluntary transfer resulting trust, and the ‘automatic’ resulting trust (as well as the Quistclose trust, which is sometimes regarded as a further relevant category). It asks whether resulting trusts, or some of the sub-categories thereof, can be justified on the basis of modern principle. The position it advocates is more nuanced than the most prominent competing approaches in the literature, which either favour a radical expansion in the scope of resulting trusts, as a response to potential unjust enrichment, or attempt to explain away entirely the existence of resulting trusts.

It will be argued that one sub-category, the purchase money resulting trust, can only be understood properly in the light of its long history. The relevant doctrine is rooted in a very old understanding of the nature of trusts and their creation, and cannot easily be reconciled with the modern law of trusts. This helps to explain why this type of resulting trust has effectively been discarded by the courts in favour of a more recent development, the common intention constructive trust. A similar argument calls into question the status of the voluntary transfer resulting trust. On the other hand, ‘automatic’ resulting trusts continue to play a useful role within the legal framework governing the creation of express trusts. It will be argued that this latter category of resulting trust is the only one that should form part of the modern law.

About the speaker

John Mee is Professor in (and former Dean of) the Law School at University College Cork in Ireland, where he has taught since 1989. He is a graduate of University College Cork (BCL; LLM), Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto (LLM), University of Dublin (PhD) and King’s Inns (BL). His research areas include family property law, land law, and the law of equity and trusts. He is particularly interested in the law of proprietary estoppel, and constructive and resulting trusts. He has published in various edited collections and in journals such as the Cambridge Law Journal, the Law Quarterly Review, the Journal of Legal HistoryLegal StudiesChild and Family Law QuarterlyLloyds Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly, and the Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. His books include The Property Rights of Cohabitees (Hart Publishing 1999), Law and Taxation of Trusts (Tottel Publishing, 2007; with Aileen Keogan and JCW Wylie); and Land Law (3rd ed Round Hall Press, 2011; with Robert A Pearce). He is currently completing a book on Resulting Trusts for Hart Publishing. He served as a trustee of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) from 2000 to 2014.

About Current Legal Problems

The Current Legal Problems annual lecture series was established over sixty years ago. The lectures are public, delivered on a weekly basis and chaired by members of the judiciary.

The Current Legal Problems (CLP) annual volume is published on behalf of UCL Laws by Oxford University Press, and features scholarly articles that offer a critical analysis of important current legal issues.

It covers all areas of legal sponsorship and features a wide range of methodological approaches to law. With its emphasis on contemporary developments, CLP is a major point of reference for legal scholarship.

Find out more about CLP on the Oxford University Press website