Trusts - righting wrongs

24 March 2021

We all make mistakes. Some are more serious than others. One of the great strengths of the courts of equity in England is their flexibility in providing a remedy where justice and fairness demand that there should be one.

Solicitor Robin Vos has written an article about when the courts might provide a remedy where mistakes have been made in Private Client Business, a leading publication for those involved in private client work. The full article can be found at [2021] P.C.B. Issue 2, p.52.

The article considers in turn the tools the courts can use, namely:

  • interpretation or construction of the words used;
  • rectification (where the words don’t carry out the clear intention);
  • mistake (where the transaction was carried out on the basis of a mistaken understanding); and
  • the Hastings-Bass principle (inadequate deliberation).

The good news for those affected by things going wrong is that the English courts are happy to help put things right, and the strict conditions allowing this to happen appear to have been relaxed. One reason for this might be that the majority of these cases are uncontested as HMRC now rarely participates in the proceedings.