Book Review: Implied Trusts & Beneficial Ownership in Modern UK Tax Law – by Chris Thorpe

 In Book Reviews for Private Client practitioners, Tax, Trusts

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Implied Trusts & Beneficial Ownership in Modern UK Tax Law – by Chris Thorpe, published by Spriamus
This is a book review by Gill Steel of Implied Trusts & Beneficial Ownership in Modern UK Tax Law – by Chris Thorpe, published by Spiramus Press Ltd.


The purpose of this book is succinctly stated on the back cover as being “to take a look at that gap which lies between books on tax and those on trust law and tries to bridge the two.” This is an excellent idea and Chris Thorpe is commended for tackling it. The author is well placed to write it given he is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and a member of STEP. He qualified as a barrister and as a tax advisor and now practices and lectures.


It is a concise book of 114 pages. In addition to the chapters there are tables of statutes and cases. There are nine chapters to the book some of which are very short:

  1. Chapter one – discusses what is meant by beneficial ownership
  2. Chapter two – explores implied trusts both resulting and constructive
  3. Chapter three – covers the parties involved in developing the law and policy in relation to modern tax law
  4. Chapter four – Distinguishes between implied trusts and express trusts
  5. Chapter five – Examines when beneficial ownership becomes the focus of income tax legislation
  6. Chapter six – Asks what is settlement legislation and how does it fit in with implied trusts and income tax law
  7. Chapter seven – Explores how equity and beneficial ownership found a way into the courts in the first place and how this affects tax
  8. Chapter eight – Considers how equity and beneficial ownership are represented to-day
  9. Chapter nine – Draws some conclusions

Structure & Layout

Some of the longer chapters are sub-divided by an appropriate numbering scheme to make it easy to read and find topics. The narrative flows with cross references to statute and cases included in footnotes.

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Clarity & readability

The style of writing is clear and easy to read. It is actually a fascinating book going into the history of the development of implied trusts and it makes it easier to understand how beneficial ownership has evolved over time.

Relevance to practitioners

This book is of benefit to practitioners new to trusts and tax who need a grounding on how tax law treats beneficial ownership. Beneficial ownership is a topical issue and does not simply belong to the Middle Ages or Victorian times bearing in mind the introduction of the 4th and 5th Anti-Money Laundering legislation and the requirement to register beneficial owners of trusts on the Trust Registration Service. There is also a good commentary on what are resulting and constructive trusts and how they differ.
I would recommend this handy book to practitioners and students alike.

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