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Unit information: Trusts in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Trusts
Unit code LAWD30120
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Imogen Moore
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit covers the core principles of the law of Trusts in England and Wales. It considers: the nature and purpose of a trust and its origins in Equity; different types of trust; trusts and other concepts; constitution of trusts and imperfect gifts; certainties and formalities; the beneficiary principle; charitable and non-charitable purpose trusts; resulting trusts; constructive trusts; the role and nature of trusteeship; trust administration and management, including investment of trust funds and delegation by trustees; the duty of care; fiduciary duties; breach of trust and relief; proprietary remedies and tracing; personal liability of strangers to a trust (recipient and accessory liability).

A bit more about the subject:

The trust concept has been described as ‘the greatest and most distinctive achievement performed by Englishmen in the field of jurisprudence’ (Maitland, 1936). Although difficult to define – not least because of its flexibility - the trust is of great significance to very many areas of law and modern life, from family law to commercial law, and from land law to insolvency and charities. At the heart of the trust lies the separation of ownership into legal and beneficial ownership, enabling one person (the trustee) to hold property for the benefit of another (the beneficiary) or for certain purposes, with attendant obligations on the trustee and consequences when those are breached. This unit enables you to understand and evaluate the principles of trust law underpinning the creation and operation of trusts and their breach, and see (and question) the myriad ways in which trust principles play a role in wider law, commerce and society.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:
• Recognise and describe different types of trust, and identify and explain their core components and requirements for effective creation/constitution
• Explain and evaluate the role of trustee in different forms of trust, and the various possible consequences of breach for the trustee and other persons
• Construct and articulate principles of trusts law, drawing on a range of different sources of material including both primary and secondary legal materials
• Analyse and critique the way in which the law responds to particular issues in trusts law, and the coherence of different approaches
• Select and employ relevant statutory provisions and case law to provide advice on legal issues and problems in trusts law.

Teaching details

30 Lectures and 8 Tutorials

Assessment Details

1 x formative assessment (submitted for marking), plus additional informal formative feedback opportunities as indicated by the unit coordinator.

Formative assessments do not count towards final mark and can be optional.

1 x summative assessment: 1 x 3 hour exam in the Summer Exam Period. Summative assessments do count towards final mark.

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

There are a great number of textbooks on Trusts available, of differing lengths, and displaying a variety of different styles, approaches and levels of detail. The vast majority of Trusts textbooks are very good, and so much depends on the kind of writing you prefer. It is worth taking a look at some of the available books before purchase (in the book shop, in the library, or online) to find one that best meets your own preferences. Ideally your textbook should both explain the key principles, and encourage you to consider the law critically. With this in mind the main recommended textbooks for this unit are (the latest editions) of:

Virgo, The Principles of Equity and Trusts (Oxford, 2016), or

Watt, Trusts & Equity (Oxford, 2016), or

Moffatt, Trusts Law (Cambridge, 2015)

There are lots of shorter textbooks available too. Recommended shorter books, that you might find helpful to supplement and support your reading and revision include:

Webb & Akkouh, Trusts Law (Palgrave, 2015)

Hudson, Understanding Equity and Trusts (Routledge, 2015)