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Unit information: Law of Personal Property and Trusts in 2015/16

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Unit name Law of Personal Property and Trusts
Unit code LAWDM0074
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Magda Raczynska
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This Unit explores the core principles of English personal property law, with its primary focus being on the law of trusts. Though broadly doctrinal in focus, it will also expose the development of those principles, the policies that have driven their development, and practical operation, as well as the future scope for law reform in the area. The unit will cover the following topics: the nature of and distinctions between: property and possession, law and equity, trusts and other concepts such as debt bailment and, powers; the creation of express trusts; charitable trusts and the doctrine of cy-pres; non-charitable purpose trusts, including unincorporated associations, Re Denley-type trusts; operation and management of trusts; including statutory powers and duties of trustees in relation to investment and delegation;the nature of fiduciary obligations; breach of trust and remedies available at common law and in equity as against both trustees and third parties; the theoretical basis of resulting and constructive trusts. The Unit will develop student's skills in common law method (case-law and statutory interpretation), in research (involving both paper and electronic resources), and in multiple-issue problem-solving.

Intended learning outcomes

After completing the unit, students will be able to display basic knowledge of the principles of English personal property and trusts law; to demonstrate basic skills in common law method of the English Legal System, which is developed through practice in handling case-law and statutory materials; and to develop independent research and writing skills through researching and analysing further material in the field with which they are hitherto unfamiliar. This unit also ensures that students develop skills of problem-solving in this field of study.

Teaching details

10 seminars and 30 lectures

Assessment Details

Summative assessment: a 3000 word essay (33%) will assess the candidate's ability to research a topic within the scope of this unit. The remaining Intended Learning Outcomes will be assessed in a 3 hour written examination (67%).

Students will also have the opportunity to complete a formative assessment in the form of a mid-sessional exam in January.

Reading and References

Recommended textbooks:

  • Hanbury & Martin, Modern Equity (Sweet & Maxwell 19th edn 2012)
  • G Virgo, The Principles of Equity and Trusts (OUP 1st edn 2012)
  • S Panesar, Exploring Equity and Trusts (Pearson 2nd Ed 2012)
  • G Moffat Trusts Law – Text and Materials (CUP 5th edn 2009)