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UOL Equity and Trusts

Equity and Trusts provides students with an in-depth exploration of the principles and doctrines that underpin equity and the law of trusts. This course aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the equitable principles that supplement and sometimes override common law rules. From the foundational concepts of equity to the intricacies of trust administration and breach of fiduciary duties, students will gain valuable insights into the equitable jurisdiction and its applications.


1. Introduction

The introductory module provides an overview of the historical development and philosophical underpinnings of equity. Students explore the origins of equity as a response to the rigidity of common law and its evolution into a distinct body of principles that seek to achieve fairness and justice.


2. Equity

Equity operates as a parallel legal system that complements the common law. This module delves into the nature of equity, its principles, and how it intersects with and supplements the common law. Students examine the flexibility and discretionary nature of equity, which allows for a more individualised and just resolution of legal disputes.


3. Fundamental Concepts

Fundamental concepts in equity are crucial for understanding its applications. Students explore key principles such as equity's jurisdiction, maxims, and the importance of conscience in equitable decision-making. The module lays the groundwork for the equitable doctrines discussed in later topics.


4. Trusts

Trusts are a central concept in equity, providing a mechanism for the separation of legal and beneficial ownership. Students examine the essential elements of trusts, including the settlor's intent, the trust property, the trustee's duties, and the beneficiaries' rights.


5. Declaration of Trust

This module focuses on the creation of trusts through a declaration of trust. Students explore how a settlor expresses their intention to create a trust and the legal requirements for a valid declaration. The module also covers the role of formalities and the significance of certainty in trust creation.


6. Trustees

Trustees play a pivotal role in the administration of trusts. Students analyse the duties, powers, and responsibilities of trustees, including their obligation to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The module also covers issues related to trustee appointment and removal.


7. Trustee Acts

Trustee acts refer to actions taken by trustees in the administration of the trust. Students delve into the powers conferred upon trustees, their authority to manage trust property, and the legal limitations on their actions. The module addresses issues of delegation and the duty to act prudently.


8. Bona Fide Purchase

Bona fide purchase involves acquiring trust property in good faith and without notice of any trust. Students explore the legal implications of bona fide purchase, including how it affects the rights of the purchaser and the original beneficiary. The module examines the balance between protecting trust interests and facilitating legitimate transactions.


9. Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the individuals who stand to benefit from a trust. This module covers the rights and interests of beneficiaries, including the right to enforce the trust, receive distributions, and challenge trustee actions. Students also examine the distinction between specific and discretionary beneficiaries.


10. Trust Formalities

Trusts, like any legal arrangement, have formal requirements. Students explore the legal formalities involved in creating and managing trusts, including the role of writing, signature, and compliance with statutory requirements.


11. Trust Constitution

Trust constitution involves the process of transferring property into the trust. Students analyse the legal requirements for a valid trust constitution, including the need for certainty, intention, and the mechanisms for transferring different types of property into the trust.


12. Promises to Create Trusts

Promises to create trusts often arise in familial or domestic contexts. Students explore the legal consequences of promises to create trusts, including the circumstances under which a court may enforce such promises. The module considers issues of detrimental reliance and the equitable remedy of specific performance.


13. Charitable Trusts

Charitable trusts serve a public interest and are subject to specific legal rules. Students examine the characteristics and requirements of charitable trusts, the definition of charitable purposes, and the role of the Charity Commission.


14. Private Purpose Trusts

Private purpose trusts are trusts created for purposes other than charity or the benefit of individuals. This module explores the legal requirements for valid private purpose trusts, addressing issues of certainty, enforceability, and the role of the courts in overseeing such trusts.


15. Unincorporated Associations

Unincorporated associations often operate under trust principles. Students explore the legal status and characteristics of unincorporated associations, the trust-like arrangements within these associations, and the rights and liabilities of their members.


16. Resulting Trusts

Resulting trusts arise by operation of law and involve the return of property to the settlor or his estate. Students examine the circumstances under which resulting trusts may be implied, the role of intention, and the implications for trust property.


17. Constructive Trusts

Constructive trusts are imposed by the courts to remedy unjust enrichment or wrongful conduct. Students explore the principles governing constructive trusts, their relationship to common law doctrines, and the legal remedies available.


18. Secret Trusts

Secret trusts involve arrangements where the existence or terms of the trust are not disclosed in the will. Students analyse the legal requirements for secret trusts, the obligations of the trustee, and the challenges in enforcing secret trusts.


19. Variation of Trusts

Trusts may be varied under certain circumstances. This module explores the legal mechanisms for varying trusts, including the role of the court, the powers of trustees, and the rights of beneficiaries.


20. Supervision of Trustees

The supervision of trustees ensures accountability and fairness in trust administration. Students examine the legal mechanisms for supervising trustees, including the powers of the court, the role of beneficiaries, and the obligations of trustees to provide information.


21. Breach of Trust

Breach of trust occurs when a trustee fails to fulfil their duties. Students explore the legal consequences of breach of trust, the remedies available to beneficiaries, and the factors considered by the courts in assessing liability.


22. Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Trustees owe fiduciary duties to beneficiaries, and breach of these duties may result in legal consequences. This module examines the fiduciary duties of trustees, the circumstances constituting breach, and the remedies available to beneficiaries.


23. Tracing

Tracing involves identifying and recovering misappropriated trust property. Students explore the legal principles of tracing, the requirements for a successful tracing claim, and the challenges involved in recovering assets.


By exploring topics such as the creation of trusts, trustee duties, rights of beneficiaries, and the legal consequences of breach, students develop the analytical skills necessary to navigate complex equitable scenarios. This course not only provides a solid foundation in equity and trust law but also encourages students to critically evaluate the role of equity in the legal system and its contribution to achieving justice and fairness. 


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