Disclosure to beneficiaries: in the matter of the B Family Trust [2013] JRC136

This case is a useful refresher on the topic of provision of information by a trustee to a beneficiary. The representor, B, sought disclosure of information in relation to two trusts of which she believed she was a beneficiary. The facts are relatively straightforward, although readers of the accountancy and legal press (or indeed, the Daily Mail) may recognise the names of the respondents from separate litigation brought against them by Paul Hogan, better known to many as ‘Crocodile Dundee’.

The respondents in this matter comprised Strachans SA (a Swiss firm of tax advisers, now in liquidation), together with Philip Egglishaw (one of Strachans’ directors) and Roker Trustees (Switzerland) Ltd (a corporate trustee based in Nevis, often used by Strachans and Egglishaw). Another director of Strachans, Philip de Figueiredo, had also been involved in the structure, but by the time of the representation he had been extradited to Australia where he was imprisoned for conspiracy to defraud.

B did not have extensive details of the trusts but had been party to email correspondence between her, her Australian tax adviser and Egglishaw in 2009, at which time assets associated with B’s family were going to be placed into the two trusts. B and her adviser assumed (correctly) that Roker was the trustee, on the basis that Roker had been used by Strachans before as the trustee of a separate trust, and also assumed (again, correctly) that the trusts were governed by Jersey law. B had been in the habit of forwarding bills to Strachans to pay for work carried out to the London properties she believed were held within one of the trusts and requesting funds to be paid to her bank account in Australia…

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