Evelyn Irene Farmer (the deceased) died on 12 January 1996 leaving a will dated 10 August 1993 (the will). The claimants were five of the ten charitable remaindermen under the trusts created under the will. They took absolutely upon the deaths of the deceased’s son and daughter in law. The deceased’s son was deceased but the daughter in law was still alive, and consequently the claimants’ interests were yet to fall into possession. The defendants were the executors of the deceased’s estate.
In 2007, the defendants wrote to the claimants enclosing an interim account for 2007 up to September of that year. Despite indicating that they would revert with information on the investment portfolio when they received a response from the trustees’ financial advisor, no further information was provided, despite the claimants’ requests. On 2 February 2016 the claimants issued a claim for an order that the defendants disclose proper particulars and accounts of (i) the property comprising the trust estate and (ii) the income, expenditure and distributions of the trust, in each case for the period since 1 October 2007.
- 1) The right to an accounting, and to see trust documents as part of it, was an aspect of the court’s inherent jurisdiction to supervise and if appropriate intervene in the administration of a trust. However it did not necessarily follow that all such documents should be disclosed to all beneficiaries. It depended on what was needed in the circumstances for the beneficiaries to vindicate their own rights against the trustees in respect of the administration of the trust. That would vary according to the facts of the case.
- 2) The claimants were entitled to (a) accounts of capital and a breakdown of trustees’ fees and expenditure (insofar as the trustees sought to deduct such fees and expenditure from trust capital); (b) lists of investments (c) confirmation of the identity of the present trustees and disclosure of any instruments of appointment and/or retirement (which were constitutive trust documents which beneficiaries should be able to see absent any special circumstances); and (d) confirmation that the daughter in law of the testatrix was still alive, which was consistent with their duty to inform remaindermen when their interests had fallen into possession.
- 3) There was a long and egregious refusal on the part of the defendants to engage at all with the claimants. That refusal was unwarranted. The second defendant should therefore pay the claimants’ costs. Further the costs incurred by the second defendant (including the costs ordered to be paid to the claimants) were not properly incurred within the meaning of CPR rPD46 para 1.1, and he was not entitled to be reimbursed out of the trust fund in respect of them.