Book Reviews

Todd & Wilson's Textbook on Trusts

Published: Oxford University Press

Author: Sarah Wilson

Price: £33.99

Edition: 11th Edition (April 2013)

ISBN: 978-0-19-966319-4

Buy from OUP: Click Here

For any student, equity and trust law is one of those topics which is always (often understandably) feared.  This is, perhaps, unsurprising.  Unlike topics like contract, tort and crime, many students will not have practical experience of equity and trusts.  It is also a topic which has little statutory framework: instead, it is (much like land law but to an even greater extent) predominantly developed by the common law.  Todd & Wilson's Textbook on Trusts aims to provide a thorough and accessible introduction by combining an "enthusiastic and unintimidating writing style with significant explanatory detail".  To a large extent, it achieves that ambitious aim.

Todd & Wilson's Textbook on Trusts is split into eighteen chapters: law and equity and an introduction to the trust; the nature of the trust: its operation and applications in society and economy; formality and the creation of valid trusts; the constitution requirement for a valid trust; introduction to resulting and constructive trusts; resulting trusts, gifts to non-charitable unincorporated associations and pension funds; beneficial interests in the family home: a case study; secret trusts and half-secret trusts (and constructive and resulting trusts); an introduction to charity and charity law; the legal definition of charity; cy près; introduction to trusteeship and an overview of the 'office of trustee'; powers, discretions and duties of trustees; variation of trusts; breach of trust; remedies associated with missing trust property: actions in equity and the basis for liability; and trusts arising in commercial dealings.

Todd & Wilson's Textbook on Trusts is largely well-written and there are obvious signs of improvement from the last edition (which was also re-written with a more accessible writing style in mind).  Some of the key new features include new 'revision boxes' which really focus the student's mind.  This is particularly important for topics like trust law; without such focus the reader can often be lost.  Todd & Wilson's Textbook on Trusts also comes with an online resource centre:  So far, this includes additional chapters, extra chapter material, sample essay questions (with some brief guidance notes), further reading summaries and a list of weblinks.  No updates have yet been posted but it is still relatively early days.  These are all useful resources.

For many students, Todd & Wilson's Textbook on Trusts will be a welcome text.  It largely explains even the most complex of principles in an accessible and straight-forward way.  Unusually for an academic text (but most welcome) is a chapter on the commercial aspects of trust law.  This usefully places trust law in the 'real-world': the absence of the 'real-world' is often a bar to understanding trusts.  This approach is excellent, and it covers the key decisions from the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal (but there is a continued omission of an analysis over fiduciary duties (or lack of them) in financial services; this is a continued issue for judges at first instance up and down the country).  The continued improvements to the written style and accessibility means this text, together with its online resource centre, is an excellent choice for trust law students.

Reviewed on 15 December 2013

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