English Law of Equity and Trusts module (LW31030)

Learn about splitting ownership into legal and equitable ownership to protect property

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Module code


The English Law of Equity and Trusts is formed of principles developed to enhance common law. This introduces an emphasis on fairness and justice. Trusts are legal arrangements where one manages assets for another's benefit.

Equity courts emerged to provide remedies beyond common law. This legal framework balances legal formalities with ethical considerations in property and obligations.

For example, there are many cases where one makes a non-binding promise to another person. If the receiver of the promise acts to their own detriment the promise is then withdrawn. Under the common law of contract, the receiver of the promise has no remedy. It is then Equity that can sometimes compensate this person.

The module also covers how trusts protect property. Take for example a scenario where you want to give property to a minor. You would then need a trustee to look after it. Another example is where people want to get the benefit of the property, but don't have the skills to manage it. Here again, trustees can be appointed to manage the property.

Other forms of trusts include charities and investment funds. The law may also imply a trust in certain situations. This includes either:

where it would be unreasonable not to do so

if someone has contributed to the price of the property but does not hold the legal ownership of it.

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • discuss the distinction between legal and equitable ownership
  • explore the nature and constitution of a trust
  • learn about the three certainties
  • learn about express trusts, charitable and purpose trusts, resulting trusts, and constructive trusts
  • explore the duties of a trustee and the breach of such duties
  • learn about proprietary estoppel

Assignments / assessment

  • oral test (25% )
  • online exam (75% )

Teaching methods / timetable

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • independent study


This module is available on following courses: