Trust deeds as ‘constitutive charters’ and the variation of trust provisions: a South African perspective

15 May 2013

In this article, I assess the constitutive status accorded to trust deeds in Potgieter v Potgieter and Pascoal v Wurdeman, two recent South African judgments on trust variation. In particular, I analyse judicial condemnation of invoking reasonableness or fairness as free-standing norms to refashion the terms of trust deeds outside established common law or statutory norms; and I illustrate the place and role that equitable considerations play in South Africa as components of existing aggregated legal rules on trust variation. I also test the judicial approach taken to the foundational nature of trust deeds in the aforementioned judgments against the status accorded to trust instruments and documents by the Trust Property Control Act—a statute that regulates aspects of trust law in South Africa.