Trustees Responsibilities – Update

Trustees should not have refused to provide information about trust to beneficiaries (High Court)

The High Court has criticised trustees who refused to provide information about the trust to its beneficiaries at their request (Lewis v Tamplin & Ors [2018] EWHC 777 Ch).
The High Court has criticised trustees who refused to provide information about a trust to its beneficiaries.
The beneficiaries had requested various information about the trust, in particular regarding the trustees’ dealings with the valuable land held by it, to enable them to determine whether the trustees had acted properly.
The trustees had refused to provide the information, arguing that the beneficiaries already had sufficient information.
Their arguments were not accepted by the trial judge, who said that the court would not be satisfied by the “say-so” of the trustees that they have had sufficient information already. He found that the so-called Londonderry principle, under which trustees are not obliged to disclose reasons for their decisions did not apply to the trustees’ exercise of administrative rather than dispositive powers. A decision of the trustees on a request for information about how the trustees had dealt with trust property would not change the entitlement of the beneficiaries to trust benefits.
He also confirmed that the trustees could not refuse to disclose to the beneficiaries legal advice obtained for the benefit of the trust as a whole (as opposed to legal advice for their personal benefit such as in relation to breach of trust liability) on the basis of legal professional privilege.