Lecture 1: Some aspects of the intersection of the law of agency with the law of trusts


This lecture will explore some connections between the law of agency and the law of trusts. The relationship of principal and agent and that of trustee and beneficiary are usually seen as discrete. Their respective rules can, however, intersect. First, trustees are usually co-owners at law of trust assets. The law of trusts presumes that trustees must act unanimously and may not delegate. But the law of agency presumes that co-owners can delegate to one of their number or to anyone else. If some of the trustees delegate decisions in breach of the law of trusts, might nonetheless any relevant disposition of the assets be valid at law, especially if the outside party is unaware of the trust? The answer is “yes”, but some judges have misunderstood this. Secondly, agents may, or may not, be trustees of assets entrusted to their care. Determining whether an agency is combined with trust duties is a source of frequent litigation, as is the question what difference this makes to remedies against the agent if the agency is breached. These topics are also briefly addressed.

Commentator: Mr Bill Swadling

Chair: Dr Paul Davies

Peter Watts is a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland. He is the General Editor of Bowstead & Reynolds on Agency (20th ed, Sweet & Maxwell, 2014). His other books include Directors' Powers and Duties (2nd ed, LexisNexis, 2015) and Watts, Campbell and Hare (Company Law in New Zealand (2nd ed, LexisNexis, 2015). He is a barrister at Bankside Chambers in Auckland and a door tenant at Fountain Court Chambers, The Temple, London. He is a Queen's Counsel and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. In 2016, he is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor to the University of Oxford.


Three Leverhulme Trust Lectures are to be delivered at the University of Oxford in May 2016 by Professor Peter Watts.

Lecture 1: Wk 3 TT (10 May), The Cube, 5:30pm

Lecture 2: Wk 4 TT (17 May), The Cube, 5:30pm

Lecture 3: Wk 6 TT (31 May), The Cube, 5:30pm