Lost in Translation

The High Court decides on whether a replacement protector has been validly appointed to a series of family trusts.

In this article which appeared in the April edition of Trusts and Estates Law & Tax Journal, a leading publication for those involved in private client work, senior solicitor Ross Pizzuti-Davidson looks at the November 2020 decision in PTNZ v AS. This was a “Category 2” Public Trustee v Cooper application, where the trustee seeks the blessing of the court for a momentous decision.

The case concerned the restructuring of four trusts, and a dispute had arisen between the beneficiaries in respect of their rights after the restructuring. All the trusts were set up by the same settlor, who was also the original protector. To complicate matters, shortly after the proceedings were launched, the settlor died. His widow and children purportedly exercised a power to appoint a replacement protector, who intended as one of his first actions to remove the existing trustees. Although the trustees were resident in Jersey, the trust itself was governed by English law, so the High Court was asked to decide:

  • whether the protector was validly appointed;
  • if he was validly appointed, whether he needed to consent to the decision of the trustees which was the subject of the court application; and
  • if his consent was required, whether there was any restriction on the role he should play in the application.

Ross considers the complications that arose in this case when analysing different jurisdictions’ legal terms, structures, roles and relationships.