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Review of the Law of Trusts

Review of the Law of Trusts

The Law Commission has published its first issues paper in its review of the law of trusts.

As readers may know, the Commission has been asked to review the Trustee Act 1956 and trust law generally. The Commission plans to tackle the review in 3 stages:
- Stage 1 will look at the Trustee Act 1956, the Perpetuities Act 1964 and trust law generally,
- Stage 2 will consider the Charitable Trusts Act 1957, and
- Stage 3 will consider the trustee companies legislation.

The Commission will release a series of issues papers on different aspects of the law and the legislation. Each paper will ask questions and call for submissions and comments. The issues papers will all be published electronically.

The first issues paper is primarily a background paper. Chapter 1 is purely introductory. Chapter 2 traces the development of the trust from its origins in England through to the present day uses of the trust both in New Zealand and internationally. Chapter 3 examines the key features of the trust with a view to finding a working definition that might possibly serve as a statutory definition for a new Trustee Act or possibly a Trusts Act. Chapter 4 looks at the Trustee Act and comparable overseas legislation and refers to issues to which the Law Commission has been alerted.
The paper asks for views about a possible legislative definition of a trust, practical issues with the Trustee Act, and whether the Act should continue to be a default statute or whether it ought to contain more mandatory provisions. The paper asks for responses to specific questions and seeks comments on Act and the law that might assist the Commission in its review.

The second issues paper in Stage 1 is scheduled for publication in late December
The second issues paper will cover concerns with the use of trusts (especially family trusts) in New Zealand.

Stage 1 of the review will include further issues papers on:
- The Perpetuities Act 1964 and the variation of trusts (scheduled for publication in the first quarter 2011);
- Trustees’ duties and beneficiaries’ rights, and exemption clauses (second quarter of 2011);
- The office of trustee and trust administration (fourth quarter of 2011);
- Trustees’ powers, including delegation, investment and insurance (fourth quarter of 2011).
- Remaining issues such as trading trusts, non-charitable purpose trusts, the Hague Trusts Convention, registration of trusts and obligations of trust advisers (fourth quarter of 2011).

These dates are indicative only. Please check back for final dates.


The Law Commission’s first Issues Paper in the review of the law of trusts, Review of Trusts Law in New Zealand: Introductory Issues Paper, is now available on the Law Commission’s website at www.lawcom.govt.nz/project/review-law-trusts .

The Commission is seeking comments and submissions on this paper by 28 February 2011.

Please email these to trusts@lawcom.govt.nz or post to Law Commission, P O Box 2590, Wellington 6011.

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