Trust disputes—court jurisdiction and procedure

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Trust disputes—court jurisdiction and procedure
  • Jurisdiction
  • Procedure
  • Parties
  • Evidence
  • Statements of case
  • Disclosure
  • Trial

Trust disputes—court jurisdiction and procedure

Trust litigation has been classified as being of three types:

  1. a dispute as to the trusts on which trustees hold the subject matter of the settlement

  2. a dispute with one or more of the beneficiaries as to the propriety of any action that the trustees have taken or omitted to take or may or may not take in the future

  3. a dispute with persons, otherwise than in the capacity of beneficiaries, in respect of rights and liabilities assumed by the trustees as such in the course of administration of the trust

The first form of dispute may well be friendly in that assistance is required to determine the construction of an instrument. Equally, it can be hostile, as when the validity of the settlement itself is challenged. The dividing line between friendly and hostile is often difficult to determine.

The second form of dispute is the more recognisable beneficiary dispute in such a situation where there is an alleged breach of trust.

The last one is likely to occur where there is a problem in contract or tort with a third party.


The trust is a creature of equity and the Court of Chancery which in 1875, was replaced by the Chancery Division of the High Court. The court is concerned with proceedings affecting both private trusts and those relating to settlements of property,

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