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International and comparative trust law

Module information>

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

This is a very practical course and it deals with a lot of issues that are significant to trusts law practitioners in the world. The trust in practice is used for four things more than anything else, all of which we will investigate in this course. Firstly it’s used for asset management – organising our affairs via a trust. Tax avoidance is another way trusts can be used, and that is where the international element comes in to play. The third possible used of a trust is regulatory avoidance. The forth typical use of the trust is to protect against insolvency. Trusts law can have all of those objectives and many others, the trust is an endlessly flexible idea. However, different jurisdictions around the world have different laws. This course considers a large number of jurisdictions making it incredibly practical and interesting.

Module A: The nature of the English trust


  • Survey of the English law of trusts
  • Shams
  • The trust as property-holding vehicle and as obligation
  • The core content of a trust
  • The Beneficiary Principle: trusts for non-charitable purposes

Module B: Offshore purpose trusts


  • Introduction to offshore non-charitable purpose trusts
  • The Bahamas
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • The Cook Islands
  • Cyprus
  • Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • Labuan
  • The STAR trust of the Cayman Islands
  • The British Virgin Islands’ Vista Trusts

Module C: Asset protection trusts


  • Asset protection trusts in a commercial and trading context
  • Introduction to offshore asset protection trusts
  • The pre-Insolvency Act 1986 and current position under English law
  • The Bahamas
  • The Cayman Islands
  • The Cook Islands
  • Cyprus
  • The Isle of Man
  • Jersey
  • Avoidance of forced heirship

Module D: Special issues in international and comparative trust law


Part one:

  • Choice of law; jurisdiction; recognition; enforcement
  • General principles of choice of law
  • The Hague Trusts Convention
  • The jurisdiction and remedies of the English courts over foreign trusts
  • Recognition and enforcement of foreign judgements in England

Part two:

  • The reception of the trust or trust-like devices in civil law jurisdictions
  • The trust and the civil law
  • The trust from a worldwide perspective: The trust’s future


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


It is strongly recommended you attempt Modules A and B before C and D.

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
  • Comparative and Foreign Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • Financial Services Law
  • International Business Law

Apply via Postgraduate Laws.