Book Review: Underhill & Hayton’s Law Relating to Trusts and Trustees 20th Edition

 In Book Reviews for Private Client practitioners, 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 Book review of Underhill & Hayton’s Law Relating to Trusts and Trustees 20th Edition, published by Lexis Nexis.


The purpose of this standard text is to provide those advising Trusts and Trustees with commentary on current law relating to this important area. For seven editions David Hayton acted as editor and this is the first edition since his retirement. The new editorial team comprises Paul Matthews, Charles Mitchell, Jonathan Harris and Sinead Agnew all of whom hold academic posts with Mr Matthews also sitting as a Judge.


There are seven divisions to the book as follows:

  1. Key aspects of trusts and their terminology
  2. Express trusts
  3. Trusts imposed by law
  4. The administration of a trust
  5. The consequences of a breach of trust
  6. Conflict of laws issues & the Hague Trusts Convention
  7. Trusts in Civil Law Countries

Since the last edition, new content has been added, for example so called ‘sham trusts’ to division one; new cases which have expanded the principles covered by division two and in particular the increase in proprietary estoppel cases and the imposition of constructive trusts on profits made by unauthorised fiduciaries in division three. There is a new chapter in division four on powers of protectors and other persons charged with supervising trustees and chapter 13 has been re-written to cover developments in the law against money laundering.

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In division five, there is further discussion on trustee liability in the light of recent cases and on interest awards against defaulting trustees. The examination of trustee defences includes many new cases on the limitation rules. Division six has been substantially expanded in scope with new sections on dishonest assistance and expanded treatment of choice of law issues. There is a new section on the so-called ‘firewall’ legislation in offshore jurisdictions to protect local trust laws from certain foreign laws.

One topic which was not covered in division four, despite the law being stated as at 1 September 2021, is the question of the duty of trustees to register taxable trusts and now non-taxable trusts on the Trust Registration Service.

Structure & Layout

The book is organised in the seven divisions mentioned above and each division contains a number of chapters. The book uses a distinctive approach of having a number of Articles within each division on discrete topics. The articles are listed at the beginning of each chapter and the numbering scheme then uses the article number for the division of the text. Extensive footnotes are included at the end of each section. For some reason the font size of the initial Article in each section is much smaller than elsewhere, which makes it harder to read.

There are also tables of statutes, statutory instruments and cases as well as an extensive index.


The book provides student and practitioner alike with a discussion of the law of trusts and trustees with extensive reference to recent cases.

Clarity & readability

The benefit of all the contributors being academics and used to explaining difficult concepts to students no doubt is that the text is clear and readable.

Relevance to practitioners

All trust practitioners are faced with queries of interpretation and obligation when advising clients or acting as trustees themselves. Many practical issues do require research in order to apply the law correctly to a particular client’s case. This text is an invaluable starting point and provides a reliable commentary on the relevant law and caselaw.

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