INTERNATIONAL? YES, BUT ENGLISH TO THE CORE
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Like the English language itself, which has spread out over I can’t remember how many countries, the concept of trusts, although fundamentally English, has now gone international, particularly in the last 25 years. The publication of Paolo Panico’s ‘International Trust Laws’ is therefore timely and fulfills a pressing need for an extensive and detailed understanding of the concept, function and administration of trusts worldwide.
The very word ‘trust’ is significant – an obligation on which all may confidently rely. The author’s introductory quote from Frederick Maitland’s view of trusts deliberately emphasizes the point that attaching ‘an obligation of conscience to the title to property’ formed, in Maitland’s words, “perhaps the greatest and most distinctive achievement of English lawyers”, finding no equivalent in foreign law. Trusts exemplify ‘English legal genius’ at its best -- and just to make sure you get the message, the author lightheartedly prefaces his comments with those lines from Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘HMS Pinafore’…’for in spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations, He remains an Englishman!’
So if you are a legal practitioner with a burgeoning offshore practice, rest assured: there is a corner of that increasingly complex foreign field of trusts that remains forever England. However -- it is noted in the text that because trusts have an identifiable ‘common core’ consisting of (a) asset segregation and (b)fiduciary administration by trustee for beneficiary…it is therefore possible to ‘recognize trusts in jurisdictions sharing different legal traditions.’
‘International Trust Laws’ (in the author’s words) ‘considers the main aspects of international trust laws, with reference to express private trusts, primarily in a private donative context as well as in respect of commercial applications’. Covering at least 26 different jurisdictions, the book attempts (and in my view succeeds) in reflecting the wide diversity within the international dimension of trust law.
Logically structured in five parts, the book covers the creation of trusts…the powers and duties of trustees…trustee liability…control mechanisms…and special uses of trusts.
Following a general pattern, each chapter starts with the development of the English traditional model, then reviews legislative developments in various offshore jurisdictions, both in the common law and civil law traditions. The extensive Tables of Cases (listed alphabetically by country) and of Legislation, plus excellent index, make this an instructive and easy to use work of reference.
For both private and commercial clients, the world, as was once predicted, is fast becoming a ‘global village’ which is why the copiously researched and lucidly written International Trust Laws is an important book. Read it and you will certainly acquire a broader understanding of… and certainly a global perspective on, trusts.