A & ors v D & ors [2017] EWHC 2222 (Ch)

WTLR Issue: Autumn 2017 #169

A

B

C

V

D (by a litigation friend)

E (by a litigation friend)

F (by a litigation friend)

G (as representative of the class of unborn beneficiaries)

Analysis

A & B were the current trustees of a settlement known as the Children’s Trust dated 21 March 2000. They were, with C, the current trustees of a settlement known as the M Trust dated 7 December 2004 (together the ‘Settlements’). A was the settlor of the settlements. D, E & F were his three minor children. G was joined in as a person appointed to represent a class of unborn beneficiaries. The settlements were drafted to qualify as accumulation and maintenance trusts within the requirements of Section 71 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (‘1984 Act’). Both made provision for a class of principal beneficiaries – that included any children of the settlor who were born before the trust closed – to acquire an interest in possession in a share of the trust fund at the age of 25. The budget announcement in March 2006 heralded the termination of the benign tax regime that hitherto had applied to accumulation and maintenance trusts with effect from 6 April 2008. If no change were made to those trusts prior to that date, then the settled property would become relevant property and become subject to inheritance tax charges on each tenth anniversary and to exit charges on beneficiaries becoming absolutely entitled. The Finance Act 2006 (‘FA 2006’) provided a measure of relief if accumulation and maintenance trusts were either converted into trusts that required one or more beneficiaries to become absolutely entitled to the trust property on or before their 18th birthday or converted into age 18-25 trusts in accordance with the requirements of Section 71D of the 1984 Act as inserted by FA 2006. If those requirements were met, the settled property would not be relevant property after 5 April 2008 and a special exit rate would be applicable when Section 71D of the 1984 Act ceased to apply. However, these provisions referred to beneficiaries who were alive at the time when the settled property ceased to be subject to Section 71 of the 1984 Act; in other words, age 18-25 trusts could not be created for a class of beneficiaries that included persons who might be born after that date. Those provisions required the beneficiaries to become absolutely entitled no later than on attaining the age of 25 although they left open the possibility that the trusts could include powers of advancement the exercise of which could be used to postpone the vesting of an interest. The trustees of the settlement, after much deliberation, executed deeds of appointment on 10 March 2008 (‘deeds of appointment’) by which they revocably appointed that the trust funds should from that date be held upon trust for such of the class of beneficiaries as should attain the age of 25. The difficulty was that the appointments were made revocable, instead of irrevocable, and so it meant that if the trustees chose to exercise that power, the trust property would be held on the trusts that applied under the original settlements. Even if they did not exercise that power, there was a real likelihood that HMRC would not accept that the trusts as amended by the exercise of the trustees’ powers qualified as age 18-25 trusts. At the material time, the settlements had a combined value of approximately £18.5m. The trustees sought relief from the court to the effect that the deeds of appointment could be construed so as to enable the word ‘revocably’ to be read as ‘irrevocably’; in the alternative, that they could obtain the same result by rectification.

Counsel details

(Giles Goodfellow QC
Pump Court Tax Chambers, 16 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4EF, tel 020 7414 8080, e-mail clerks@pumptax.com) instructed by Clyde & Co LLP ( St Botolph Building, 138 Houndsditch, London, EC3A 7AR, tel 020 7876 5000) for the claimants. Edward Waldegrave (Pump Court Tax Chambers, 16 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4EF, tel 020 7414 8080, e-mail clerks@pumptax.com) instructed by Fladgate LLP (16 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5DG, tel 020 3036 7000, e-mail fladgate@fladgate.com) for the first defendants. Oliver Conolly (Pump Court Tax Chambers, 16 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4EF, tel 020 7414 8080, e-mail clerks@pumptax.com) instructed by Fladgate LLP (16 Great Queen St, London WC2B 5DG, tel 020 3036 7000, e-mail fladgate@fladgate.com) for the second defendant.

Cases referenced

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Legislation referenced

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