Industry News

STEP South Australia 2018 Trusts Symposium Review

The 2018 STEP South Australia/Law Society of South Australia Trusts Symposium continued its traditional journey with excellent speakers providing analysis of contemporary or leading edge legal issues surrounding trusts and equity.

What follows is the impression of one who is not a lawyer!

Several overseas visitors (from Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom) added a perspective to the corridor discussions over the breaks and the drinks on the evening of the event.

Chair of STEP South Australia, Rodney Luker TEP, welcomed the delegates and the Honourable Tom Gray QC officially opened the event, continuing his support for STEP.

David Wright TEP explored the issue of a trust existing without property, providing an insightful well-argued analysis.  He confronted Jacobs’ Law of Trusts in Australia “There can be no trust without property.  That is fundamental” and did so thoughtfully, clearly engaging the audience.

Other speakers spoke of the notable work, deliberately staying safe by expressing support of the respected text.

Other speakers in the morning examined some very fundamental trusts issues dealing with commercial and practical matters in Australian business; matters influenced by the scope of the papers.

David Marks QC TEP challenged the basis of many taxation orientated legal practitioners’ (and tax accounting professionals’) use of partnerships of trusts as preferred structures for investment and enterprise.  Whilst acknowledging the relevant advices concerning tax law the audience was left comprehending the complexities of partnerships of discretionary trusts.

A foundation of knowledge for those trust and estate practitioners advising on commercial and investment structuring, was provided.

The depth of analysis went further when Dr Campbell Rankine presented on “Sub trusts – what are they?”  True to his comprehensive knowledge in this area Campbell gave an in-depth paper with insightful interpretation of the taxation law areas where there appears to be a divergence of interpretation between the administration of taxation law (by the Australian Taxation Office) and cases on equity; and he suggested a better interpretation.  Campbell’s paper should be considered by any practitioner facing controversy in this area.

The David Haines QC Memorial Lecture was presented by the Honourable Justice Malcolm Blue, providing the audience with a profound insight into derivative actions in trusts.  This was a scholarly review.

A delightful addition to the day’s proceedings was an address by Ms Patricia Wass (STEP Worldwide Chair) who was introduced by Neil Wickenden (Chair of STEP Australia). She presented on STEP Worldwide’s activities and initiatives. She also presented a STEP Employer Partnership Programme Plaque to Michael Perkins of Nexus Legal.

The post lunch panel on “Are trusts ill-suited for commercial enterprises?” provided an intriguing analysis of the practical issues confronting practitioners when advising in respect of a typical multi-generation family farm scenario.  The insights on the adviser’s dilemmas were significant.  Sashi Maharaj QC and The Honourable David Bleby QC gave reminders of an adviser’s obligations and responsibilities in these scenarios.  With profundity Milton Shaw TEP presented a detailed summary of tax issues exposed by the case study.  The panel was moderated by the Honourable Tom Gray QC with the case study created largely by Dr Campbell Rankine.

Professor John Glover presented the Honourable Christopher Legoe QC AO Lecture on “Express trusts, inexplicit contracts and the mutual intention problem”.  Whilst acknowledging the perspective presented by David Wright, Professor Glover stayed with the more settled perspectives (found in Jacobs) whilst providing guidance on the topic’s implications – a paper worthy of a further read.

Facing the last shift and admitting to being a barrier to drinks Carolyn Sparke QC TEP entertained us all with a thought provoking and humorous presentation on recent family provision and estate cases.

In summary the 2018 event was a classic Trusts Symposium where attendees were able to hear authoritative speakers provide well thought out and sometimes challenging perspectives on an array of leading trust and equity issues.

Author: Michael Fox, TEP

Rodney Luker TEP (Chair of STEP South Australia), Patricia Wass (STEP Worldwide Chair) and Neil Wickenden TEP (Chair of STEP Australia)

Rodney Luker TEP (Chair of STEP South Australia) and Tom Gray QC TEP

David Marks QC TEP and Tom Gray QC TEP

Carolyn Sparke QC TEP

Honourable Justice Malcolm Blue

Honourable Christopher Legoe QC AO