The fiduciary office of trustee and the protection of contingent trust beneficiaries

11 Apr 2011

This contribution focuses on two matters pertinent to the office of trustee. First, the fiduciary nature of the office of trustee is investigated, with particular reference to the essence of a trustee’s fiduciary duty. Secondly, the protection afforded by a trustee’s fiduciary office to trust beneficiaries, particularly contingent beneficiaries, is examined. It is shown that the protection enjoyed by contingent trust beneficiaries is frequently ascribed to their “vested interests in the proper administration of a trust” (which, it is submitted, means that each contingent trust beneficiary enjoys a personal right against the trust’s trustee for proper trust administration as counterpart to such trustee’s fiduciary duty). The question is then posed whether, as some commentators contend, such an interest in or right to proper trust administration allows extending a direct action, through the actio legis Aquiliae, to contingent trust beneficiaries for claiming delictual damages from an errant trustee in breach of trust.