What will the seminar cover?
Discretionary trusts in Australia are drafted to give trustees maximum flexibility in the exercise of their discretions, which are variously described as “uncontrolled”, “absolute” and even “irresponsible”. Since the 19th century the Courts have declined to examine the exercise (or non exercise) of these discretions, except in very special circumstances. The Courts have supposed that it is the settlor’s express desire that just as they could give away their own property as they see fit, where reasonably or not, so can they permit their trustee to do so for any beneficiary or beneficiaries, without risk of any justiciable complaint by a disappointed beneficiary (except in the case of actual fraud.)
The Victorian Court of Appeal has put into question this settled law. Until now, and even where a trustee voluntarily gives reasons for its decision, that discretion could only be challenged where the trustee had acted in bad faith and failed to give “real and genuine consideration” to exercising it. In Wareham v Marsella and Owies v JJE Nominees, the Victorian Court of Appeal has endorsed the contrary position: bad faith is not required to impugn the exercise of an absolute discretion, and failure to give “real and genuine consideration” to the manner and sufficiency of its exercise is.
In this seminar these competing positions will be analysed. Mr Robertson suggests that these decisions ought not be followed in Queensland. He suggests the correct view is that a person acting in good faith may do as they like with their property, however unfair, unreasonable, or unwise, and can authorise a trustee to do likewise. The court can inquire into whether the absolute discretion was exercised upon the trustee in good faith having given “real and genuine consideration” to doing so, but cannot be concerned with how.
In this seminar you will hear about :
- The established law
- The recent Victorian decisions and the circumstances when a disappointed beneficiary can litigate or a trustee can reverse its decision
- Mr Robertson’s views as to where the Victorian Courts went wrong and why they should not be followed in Queensland
- What can be done in drafting to carry into effect the settlor’s wishes
Who should attend?
This session will interest advisory and litigation lawyers with tax and succession law practices as well as those who are concerned with advising trustees of discretionary trusts generally.
Mark Robertson KC (Barrister, Level Twenty Seven Chambers)
A preeminent King’s Counsel and Chartered Tax Adviser with an Australia-wide practice, Mark specialises in revenue and trust law. He provides complex advice to, and appears for, commonwealth and state revenue authorities, Australia’s leading corporate groups, high net wealth individuals, as well as foreign investors in relation to proposed and completed domestic and cross-border transactions (including in estate and family law contexts).
In person at Level Twenty Seven Chambers/webinar.
N.B. Registering via the form below you are requesting to join online. Contact Tamara McCombe (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you wish to reserve an in person seat.
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The presentation is free to view. For further information, please contact Tamara McCombe on +61 7 3008 3927.
An edited transcript is published below.