What is the role of the Royal Court of Jersey in trustee applications for directions regarding disclosure of trust information?

In December 2013, the Royal Court of Jersey blessed the decision of the trustee of the Y Trust to refuse disclosure of information concerning the trust to the first respondent (Mrs B) in her capacity as former beneficiary of the trust (In the matter of the Y Trust [2014] JRC 027). The application raised the issue of the function of the court, namely whether the court was exercising its own discretion in supervising and, where necessary, intervening in the administration of a trust or, on the facts of the case, giving its blessing to the proposed exercise of the trustee’s discretion.

The facts, in summary, were that the settlor was acquainted with the husband of Mrs B, namely Mr B, who, the trustee understood, assisted the settlor in the acquisition of real property held by the trust. Mr B was to be remunerated for his advisory services. The settlor requested that this remuneration be made through the trust by way of distributions to Mrs B. The trustee acceded to this request and, accordingly, Mrs B was made a beneficiary on 17 March 2010. Substantial distributions were made to her and at the settlor’s request she ceased to be a beneficiary on 6 September 2011.

In July 2013, the trustee received a letter from English solicitors acting for Mr and Mrs B seeking information in relation to the trust. Shortly thereafter, the trustee received a further letter from the English solicitors acting for Mr and Mrs B enclosing a letter before action on behalf of Mr B against the settlor…

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