Essay on Certainty

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Pages: 14

F3:2.1: CERTAINTY OF OBJECTS & DISCRETIONARY TRUSTS 1. Introduction: The Purpose of the Certainty of Objects Requirement

- For a Trust to exist, A must: (i) hold a specific claim-right or power; and (ii) be under a duty to B not to use that claim-right or power for A’s own benefit (unless and to the extent that A is also a beneficiary of the Trust). In other words, for a Trust to exist, A must be under the core Trust duty. The certainty requirements for a Trust simply reflect the fact that A must be under a duty to B in relation to a specific right. The certainty of objects requirement ensures that: (i) A owes a duty to a specific person; and (ii) A’s duty is certain enough to be enforced. The certainty of objects requirement can
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Sachs and Megaw LJJ both dealt with that point by saying that the onus is on X to prove that claim; until X does so, it must be assumed that X does not share an ancestor with A0.6 The approach of Sachs and Megaw LJJ (assuming X is out of the permitted class, unless and until X can show otherwise) seems to make the “any given person” test redundant. For example, if A0 tries to set up a discretionary Trust in which A has a power to distribute the benefit of a right to anyone who is a “good person”, we might expect A0’s attempt to fail: there is no way for a court to tell if X is or is not a “good person”. However, on the approach of Sachs and Megaw LJJ, we could instead say that the discretionary Trust is valid – it is just that, if X cannot prove he is a “good person”, it will be assumed that he is not such a person. It seems that neither Sachs LJ nor Megaw LJ wanted to leave the law in such a way as to permit there to be a discretionary Trust in favour of anyone who is a “good person”. So each judge added a further certainty requirement. Sachs LJ stated that the class of those to whom A can distribute the benefit of A’s right must be “conceptually certain”: that is, it must be possible to come up with a definition of the class.7 Practical, evidential problems as to whether X is or is not within that