Classic Authorities

The Duties and Liabilities of Trustees

One of the classic authorities on trust law is “The Duties and Liabilities of Trustees” by Augustine Birrell MP.

A version of “The Duties and Liabilities of Trustees” is available here.

The duties of Trustees listed by Augustine Birrell are:

  • (1) The First duty of a Trustee is to make himself acquainted with the terms of the Trust;
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  • (2) His Second duty is to always bear those terms in mind;
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  • (3) His Third duty is never to depart from the terms of his Trust;
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  • (4) His Fourth duty is to take as much care of the Trust property as (being a prudent man of business) he is accustomed to take of his own;
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  • (5) The Fifth of a Trustee is, in all investments and particularly in the case of investments on mortgage of real or leasehold estate, to observe to the letter both the provisions of the Trust Deed or Will and the requirements of Parliament;
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  • (6) His Sixth duty is to give the persons beneficially interested in the Trust complete information as to the state of the Trust Funds, and otherwise, whenever required so to do, and to furnish such persons with accounts;
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  • (7) The Seventh duty of a Trustee is not to make a penny piece of personal profit out of the Trust business, unless a professional man specially authorised by the Trust Deed or Will so to do;
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  • (8) The Eighth duty is to co-operate with his fellow co-Trustees, and to consult them about all matters connected with the Trust, and to retire whenever requested so to do by the parties interested; and
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  • (9) And Ninthly and Lastly, whenever any questions of difficulty actually arises as to the extent of his powers or the nature of his duty, to take the opinion of a Judge in Chambers by way of Summons.
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    The liabilities of Trustees are measured by their duties.

    Augustine Birrell notes that “Every plain neglect of duty is a Breach of Trust, and if the Breach of Trust results in pecuniary loss, the Trustee committing it is personally liable”.

    A Concise Treatise on Powers

    Another classic authority on trust law and the law of powers is “A Concise Treatise on Powers” {1893} by Sir George Farwell.

    A version of “A Concise Treatise on Powers” is available here.

    A Practical Treatise of Powers

    Another classic authority on trust law and the law of powers is “A Practical Treatise of Powers” {1808} by Edward B. Sugden.

    A version of “A Practical Treatise of Powers” is available here.


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    This tab updated on 31 May 2015