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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Commercial Trust Law (LAWS10216)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to develop a critical understanding of commercial trusts, with a special focus on the following topics: the legal risk to the beneficiary as an equity investor; the legal risk to commercial trustees; the legal risk to creditors; trading trusts; trust companies; and trusts and finance law. Through this course, students will acquire comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the principal theories, principles and concepts that underlie the law of trusts used in commercial area.
Course description This is a 20 credit, one semester course. It aims to develop a critical understanding of commercial trusts as an Honours course, in particular focusing on the topics of common law trust, introduction of trust into civil law, trust for commercial uses, legal position of beneficiary, trustees, and creditors, investment schemes in the EU and trust and finance. This course will focus on the UK law but also involves comparative studies of trusts in other jurisdictions, such as EU, US, Australia, and China. Students are encouraged to consider the problems involved in teaching topics.

Participants in the course will examine the following core topics:
1. Common law trust:
- the origin of trusts,
- what is a trust,
- types of trust,
- the three certainties,
- trustee's fiduciary duties,
- the independence of trust property,
- the traditional concept of dual ownership of trust property

2. Introduction of trust into civil law:
- difficulties with the introduction of trusts into civil law,
- significance of the introduction of trusts into civil law,
- possibility of the introduction of trusts into Civil Law,
- examples of introduction of trusts into Civil Law in practice,
- the introduction of trust in Scots law

3. Trusts of commercial uses
- the evolution of trusts from family uses to commercial uses,
- reasons for the evolution of trusts, namely what makes the trust attractive for commercial uses,
- different types of commercial trusts

4. Commercial Trustees and beneficiaries
- evolved role of a trustee in commercial trusts
- trustee's powers, particularly power of investment
- trustee's duties and liabilities
- commercial expectations and risks of the equity-investor beneficiary

5. Investment schemes in the EU jurisdictions
6. Law and Finance
7. The remedies available to aggrieved parties
8. Comparative law angle: common law trusts, trusts in other jurisdictions
9. The Private international law implications of trusts involving parties domiciled in different jurisdictions
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 100 %, Coursework 0 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course will be assessed by means of a 48 hour take-home assessment of 5,000 words, worth 100% of the final course mark.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course students should have gained a knowledge and critical understanding of commercial trusts, with a special focus on the legal position of the three main classes of participant: (1) the beneficiary unit-holder; (2) the trustees; and (3) creditors.
  2. By the end of the course students should have had experience of conducting legal research, communicating, and and of working independently and as a team member.
  3. By the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to: Demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge, skills and understanding of rules and theories to practical cases; Demonstrate their ability to analyse and discuss hypothetical cases or scenarios.
  4. By the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to: Demonstrate their abilities to present their research and scholarly work to others; to synthesise and communicate information and ideas effectively in written and oral form; to work independently, seeking relevant advice and support when necessary; and to work constructively as a member of a group or team, to assert leadership or follow convey instructions effectively.
  5. By the end of the course students will have developed their skills in managing time, working independently and in groups, and taking responsibility for their own work.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Ruiqiao Zhang
Tel: (0131 6)50 2029
Course secretaryMiss Emma Hughes
Tel: (0131 6)50 2008
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