Oh No, I hear you cry. Not another piece on the wrangling over the remedy for breach of trust in Target Holdings Ltd v Redferns [1996] 1 AC 421 (HL). But there are two reasons to take heart. First, I am swimming against the stream of academic articles hostile to that case and its successor, AIB Group (UK) Plc v Mark Redler & Co Solicitors [2014] UKSC 58, [2015] AC 1503. Second, the reviewer asked him or herself the question of whether I had anything useful to add and decided the answer was yes.

Abstract: Discusses the Court of Appeal’s obiter ruling in Barnett v Creggy on whether a claim for equitable compensation for the breach of trust of paying away trust money without authorisation engaged the Limitation Act 1980 s.29(5)(a), with the effect that the trustee’s acknowledgement of the debt or other liquidated sum restarted the limitation period. Considers its implications for determining the nature of the remedy for the breach of trust.

The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer is syndicated on Westlaw. Log in, then click here to read my note, or navigate to [2017] Conv 139.

Broadly speaking, I identify additional reasons for the dicta in Ex p Adamson (1878) 8 Ch D 807 (CA) suggesting that the remedy is like a debt (thus not susceptible to the legal principles of causation and going against the ratio in Target Holdings). These are found in the rules for the acknowledgement of the equitable liability, which was then transmuted into a legal debt. However, my view is that this is a purely historic restriction emanating from the old form of action, which did not admit legal principles such as causation. We should not allow the forms of action to rule us from their graves, as Maitland nearly said. Just as other claims under this form eventually admitted legal principles (particularly restitution for unjust enrichment in change of position), so should this one.

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