UCL Faculty of Laws


International and Commercial Trusts Law (LAWS0328)

This module is a study of the use of trusts 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 a particular focus on legal developments in the ‘offshore world’.

Part II covers the use of the trust in a variety of commercial transactions.

This is an advanced trusts course and students must previously have studied the law of trusts in a common law jurisdiction in order to enrol. The module will appeal most strongly to students with an interest in trusts law, but it will also appeal to students with an interest in commercial law and litigation students who want to take an advanced private law course.

The module has been designed to sit alongside the module on Commercial Remedies, and students can take both modules in conjunction without any significant repetition of material.

Each week, students are expected to read cases, textbook chapters and articles for class discussion and/or to prepare answers to questions to be discussed in class. The teaching style is interactive: students are expected to ask and answer questions, make their own points, and debate issues with each other as well as the module teachers.

By the end of the module, students should 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 protect assets;
  • a solid grasp of the issues that arise in respect of controlling trustees’ powers, the rights of the objects of trusts, and the question of the extent to which the law facilitates the intentions of the settlors of trusts;
  • 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;
  • a sophisticated appreciation of the conceptual questions raised by the trust and the different ways in which those questions have been addressed.

Module Syllabus

•    Introduction: Modern Trusts Drafting
•    Massively Discretionary Trusts and Offshore Trust Jurisdictions
•    Tax, Trusts and Estate Planning
•    Tax Mistakes, Rescission and Rectification
•    Reservation of Powers, ‘Illusory Trusts’ and the Sham Doctrine
•    Protectors
•    Letters of Wishes and Beneficiaries’ Rights to Information
•    Exemption Clauses and Mandatory Trustee Duties
•    Arbitration Clauses and ‘No Contest’ Clauses
•    Private Purpose Trusts
•    Trusts in Private International Law
•    Trusts in the Commercial Context: Introduction
•    Quistclose Trusts
•    Trusts and Intermediated Holding of Securities
•    Trusts and Bonds
•    Occupational Pension Schemes

Recommended Materials

There is no textbook that covers the whole module. Success in the course requires a good understanding of key principles of trusts law, and so looking at a suitable trusts text will be helpful preparation for the course. Where reference is often made in the readings to a trusts text, the text used is:

•    Hayton and Mitchell on the Law of Trusts & Equitable Remedies (14th edn, 2015)

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Prelimenary Reading

None is required, but if you want to refresh your existing knowledge of trusts before starting the module, you could look at a trusts textbook, e.g. Hayton and Mitchell which is listed above.

Module information
Credit value:45 Credits (450 Learning Hours)

Charles Mitchell

Other Teachers:
  • Monica Bhandari
  • Mark Wraith
Teaching Delivery:Teaching for all LLM modules in 2020-21 will be delivered through a combination of pre-recorded and synchronous live teaching
Who may enrol:LLM Students Only
Prerequisites:Previous study of the common law of trusts
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:

LLM in International Commercial Law;
LLM in International Banking and Finance Law;
LLM in Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Practice Assessment:TBC
Final Assessment:48 Hour take-home examination (100%)