The Trust: A common-law instrument increasingly finds favour around the world’s jurisdictions

Despite the common belief that they are found only in the common law tradition, trusts have long been known in mixed and even civilian jurisdictions. The Worlds of the Trust, a new book edited by Professor Lionel Smith, sheds more light on the subject.

Lionel Smith, ed. The Worlds of the Trust. Cambridge University Press, October 2013. 571 pages.

Contributors: Lusina Ho, Yaëll Emerich, Aude Peyrot, Reinout Wibier, Lionel Smith, François Barrière, Blandine Mallet-Bricout, Nurfadzilah Yahaya, Adam Hofri-Winogradow, François du Toit, Alexandra Braun, Gregory Alexander, Paul Matthews, Michael Lubetsky, Iris Goodwin, Thomas Gallanis, Rebecca Lee, Robert Sitkoff, Magdalena Raczynska, Remus Valsan, Ben McFarlane, George Gretton.

Since 2007, the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law has been working on an extensive research project touching upon the trust in mixed jurisdictions and civilian jurisdictions. Part of the project involved a series of civil law workshops (2008-2009) that led to a first book, Re-imagining the Trust (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

In 2010, with the support of Borden Ladner Gervais and other sponsors, the Crépeau Centre organized a large international conference entitled “The Worlds of the Trust / La fiducie dans tous ses États”, which has in turn led to this new collection, The Worlds of the Trust.

As Professor Lionel Smith, Director of the Crépeau Centre, explains, “There was a strong response to our call for papers, and the conference included a range of speakers and commentators from all over the world – Canada, the U.S., England, France, Scotland, South Africa, Israel and China. This new book gathers their insightful contributions to the conference.”

According to the book’s contributors, trusts have now been introduced by legislation in a number of civilian jurisdictions, such as France and China. Other recent developments include the reception of foreign trusts through private international law in Italy and Switzerland, and the inclusion of a chapter on trusts in Europe’s Draft Common Frame of Reference. As a result, there is a growing interest in the ways in which the trust can be accommodated in civil law systems.

Exploring this question, as well as general issues such as the juridical nature of the trust, the role and qualifications of the trustee and particular developments in specific jurisdictions, this collection of 22 essays makes a significant contribution to the comparative study of trusts.

“The trust research project has led to many enriching discussions and to two substantial books; I hope that these will renew the interest in the comparative study of this fascinating area of the law,” concludes Professor Smith.

As part of the Trust project, the McGill Law Journal has also published a special edition on the Civil Law Trust (58:4), which can be consulted online here Inside this edition are six French papers that were translated for the two collections, as well as a previously unpublished English paper on the subject.

– By Lysanne Larose