Skip to main content

Commercial trusts law

Module information>

Academic Direction
UCL, Queen Mary University of London
Modes of Study

This course looks particularly at how Trusts Law is used in commercial contexts. In recent years, because this area of law has become more and more complex that means the litigation has become more complex as well. Therefore it is usually parties with very deep pockets, such as large corporations and high net worth individuals who tend to have been engaged in this kind of litigation, or else it is disadvantaged people who have received legal aid and therefore the state has been responsible for legal fees. From the 1990’s onwards there have been a lot of important cases in this field. This course considers how the trusts law is used commercially by commercial entities, banks and other financial institutions and large corporations to achieve their commercial goals and how some of the case law filters into this.

Module A: The nature of commercial trusts


  • Equity, trusts and commercial expectations
  • The constitution of express trusts in commercial transactions
  • The contractarian account of trusts
  • The commercial use of international trusts.

Module B: Equitable devices used to take security in commercial contracts


  • Resulting trusts in commercial transactions
  • Quistclose trusts and taking security in loan contracts
  • Taking security: equitable charges
  • Establishing title at common law and in equity
  • Constructive trusts in commercial transactions
  • Lessons from the local authority swaps cases.

Module C: Breach of trust and tracing in commercial litigation


  • Breach of trust in commercial and investment transactions
  • Tracing
  • Personal liability to account of commercial intermediaries, 'strangers'.

Module D: Investment of trust funds


  • The duty to invest under statute
  • The duty to invest in the case law
  • Principles of the law of finance
  • Issues with portfolio investment strategies
  • Unit trusts and other financial uses of trusts.


Each module is assessed by a 45-minute unseen written exam.


It is strongly recommended that you attempt Module A first.

How to apply

You can apply to study a module individually as a standalone unit or as part of a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Laws qualification. (In either scenario, they must be studied in order.)

These modules also contribute towards the following specialist pathways for Laws:

  • Banking and Finance Law
  • Commercial and Corporate Law
  • Common Law
  • Corporate and Securities Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • Financial Services Law
  • International Business Law

Apply via Postgraduate Laws.

Study Material