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Court steps up focus on action of trustees

By Tony Johnson - 5 Sep 2013

The High Court recently removed a beneficiary's stepmother and solicitor as trustees of a trust. The removal was on the grounds that they failed to act impartially and/or failed to take into account the interest of all the beneficiaries. The recent High Court decision of Thurston v Thurston reaffirms the requirement of trustees to act impartially and in the interest of all beneficiaries.

The Court determined that the stepmother particularly had difficulty distinguishing between her role personally as a beneficiary and her role as a trustee. 

In respect to the solicitor, the Court's view was that because of his close link to the stepmother, it was difficult for him to act impartially and he had not done so.

The decision again illustrates the benefit of a truly independent trustee. This is especially the situation when other trustees are also beneficiaries. It also illustrates the risks for professionals who take on trustee work whilst at the same time being aligned to a particular beneficiary.


Thurston v Thurston


Tony Johnson


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