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Title: The rule in Re Hastings-Bass
Author: Ashdown, Michael J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 0995 8047
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The rule in Re Hastings-Bass is an equitable control on the exercise of powers by trustees. It has developed without satisfactory explanation of its doctrinal basis, resulting in uncertainty as to its scope and application. In Pitt v Holt [2011] EWCA Civ 197 the Court of Appeal began to remedy these defects by deciding that the rule is founded on a trustee’s duty properly to consider the exercise of a power. This thesis argues, first, that Pitt is right to understand the Re Hastings-Bass rule as premised on the duties of trustees, and not on the exercise of a power producing an unintended result. This accords with the reasoning of earlier cases on the rule, and is also consistent with House of Lords authority on fiduciary powers and judicial non-interference in trustees’ decision-making. This duty is not a ‘fiduciary’ duty, or an aspect of the trustee’s duty of care, but is an independent incident of the office of trustee. Secondly, this analysis of the Re Hastings-Bass rule facilitates exposition of its important features: the concept of ‘relevant consideration’ must be carefully circumscribed; the purported exercise of a power in breach of the rule is voidable, not void; the rule does not apply to purely personal powers, or to administrative powers; there are no special rules for pension trusts or the use of the rule to mitigate liability to taxation; trustees can usually avoid a breach of duty by taking professional advice; and in some circumstances, those professional advisers can incur liability to the trust beneficiaries. Finally, the relationship between the Re Hastings-Bass rule and fraud on a power is examined. It is argued that the analogy between the two doctrines is not sound, and that there is reason to doubt aspects of the orthodox account of fraud on a power.
Supervisor: Getzler, Joshua Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law ; Equity and the law of trusts ; Trusts ; Trustees ; Powers ; Fiduciary