Equity and Trusts Law Notes

The following notes consider equitable doctrines and remedies with a focus on the Australian, United Kingdom and Canadian jurisdictions. They were developed in conjunction with my study of the subject 730-462 Equity and Trusts at the University of Melbourne in Semester 1, 2006. They have been written from scratch on the basis of primary materials — cases, legislation — and supplemented by relevant secondary sources — primarily textbooks, journal articles and lectures. At the time of writing, the author was a penultimate year law student.

The notes are structured into several topics. Part I introduces the nature and history of equity, identifying and critically analysing several recurrent themes. Parts II-IV consider equitable doctrines and remedies relating to the imposition of fiduciary obligations and remedies available for their breach by fiduciaries or third parties. Parts V-VII examine the notion of a trust and examine three common types of trusts. Requirements for validity and common transactions involving trusts are expounded and critically discussed. Finally, Part VIII sets out in summary information some sample responses to hypothetical problems.

How You May Make Use of These Notes

Topic summaries are intended to provide an overview of the various areas of equity and trusts law. They are fairly detailed in some respects but may be lacking in others. (If you have materials capable of supplementing these weaknesses, please contact me with details; appropriate attribution will be given.) However, in their current state they should not be relied upon for examination purposes.

I also ask that you do not redistribute, print or make copies of these notes in any form. If you want to tell a friend about them, that’s fine, but direct them to this page so they can download them directly. The notes have been locked to prevent printing and copying of text. I do so to ensure proper standards of academic and professional conduct are maintained. Please do not contact me regarding or attempt to reverse engineer the printing and copying restrictions: these are designed to prevent plagiarism and inappropriate reliance for law school assessment tasks and I will not disable them in any circumstances.

Important Note

The jurisdiction to which these writings are most applicable is Victoria, Australia. Canadian and United Kingdom case law and legislation is also consider where it forms a relevant point of contrast, is of historical interest or explains the current or likely approach to be adopted by an Australian court. Many parallels exist between the principles of equity in Australia and those of other common law countries, and the notes may serve as a summary for comparative purposes in that regard.

Of other students, who may make use of these materials in their preparation for examinations or moots, I ask only one thing: please report any errors — suspected or blatant, legal or typographical — to the author by one of the following means: the comments section at the bottom of the page, e-mail, or MSN Messenger using the aforementioned address. It is only by an iterative process of improvement and feedback that these notes can improve and maintain their status as a useful resource.


These notes are not legal advice. By making these notes available to you, I do not intend to create a lawyer-client relationship. You should not rely upon these notes, or direct others to so rely, for any serious purpose. Any such reliance would be plainly unreasonable. I am not a qualified lawyer, and the notes should not be treated as though they were written by one.

Last Update

The notes are current as of June 2006. That is to say that they describe the law as I understand it at the present moment in the aforementioned jurisdiction. Uncertainties are noted where applicable; however, there are several key principles currently awaiting redecision or having been granted special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia (eg, Say-Dee v Farah Constructions Pty Ltd), so the law is undoubtedly going to change in various respects. As such, they are not to be relied upon as a sole source of information about equitable principles, whether for assessment, private study, legal advice, or any other purpose whatsoever.

Topic Summaries

Part I - A History of Equity
Part II - Fiduciary Duties
Part III - Accessory Liability
Part IV - Tracing
Part V - Express Trusts
Part VI - Resulting Trusts
Part VII - Constructive trusts (see Property Law notes)
Appendix I - Revision Materials

A Note about Sources

To the extent that the notes derive from lectures and course materials, acknowledgent is here offered for the contributions of lecturers — in particular, Professors Michael Bryan and Lisa Sarmas — and the subject co-ordinator. All other sources are acknowledged where applicable; however citations for authorities are ommitted for brevity.

Posted by Jaani at May 31, 2006 10:46 PM


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