What you will study
This is an innovative module, as the materials have been written to take a critical and contextual approach to the subject. This means that as well as learning the legal doctrine – the ‘black letter’ rules – you'll be given the thinking tools to unpick and question the bases of trusts law and the social fabric in which trusts exist. This module is structured into the following three blocks of study. Each block comprises three units.
Block 1: Foundations
The focus of this first block is on foundational principles and concepts. The first unit introduces ‘equity’ and the ‘fiduciary’, essential concepts in trusts law. You’ll also see how trusts developed through history, inspired by several cultures in different eras – Ancient Greece, Islamic Europe, Christianity, and the British Industrial Revolution.
The next two units ensure you know how trusts are managed and created. The theme of family wealth will begin tto emerge here. Unit 2 exposes the relevant law with an example trust that is intended to support the settlor’s friends and family. Unit 3 turns towards the ‘three certainties’; the courts need to know whether there is intention to create a trust, with what property, and for whom. This unit highlights some formal requirements of transferring interests in property. Trusts can be created intentionally, but some are ‘implied by law’ to secure rights in the family home or capture criminal gains, for example.
Block 2: Abuse of trusts
In this block, you'll look at trusts through a lens of the ‘abuse of trusts’. Here, you'll be asked to challenge assumptions. The materials offer three perspectives. The first explores the law relating to those who steward trusts – the trustees. What happens when they put their own interests first, in breach of fiduciary and legal duties?
The second unit identifies how trusts can be set up to preserve and grow family fortunes. But trusts can also hide wealth offshore and minimise tax liabilities. Is it an abuse to use trusts to avoid tax? Or is that what they’re for?
The third unit introduces legal charity. This sector is regulated by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, which makes charitable trusts more difficult to abuse. Some controversies still arise. You’ve probably seen some in the news. Here, you’ll learn about the legal and regulatory framework for minimising scandals.
Block 3: Modern trusts
This final block considers the relationship between trusts and technology, society, and the environment. By the end of this block, we want to know what you think. What are your values? Do trusts match or contradict your values? Technology creates new types of property and alters how we interact with older forms of property. Unit 7 takes a snapshot of the relationship between trusts, property, and new technologies.
Unit 8 looks at how trusts shape society, namely through pension trusts. These trusts hold the property of hundreds of thousands of contributors. Pension trustees have the power to invest responsibly – or irresponsibly. You’ll learn about the law that governs these arrangements.
Unit 9 further considers this influence of trusts on society as a vehicle to manage the environment. This is a crucial issue in light of climate change. And trusts are at the centre of this debate. You’ll see how trusts can be used as a force for good in this area and how this use of trusts can be controversial.
The Foundations of Legal Knowledge (FLK) route of the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (LLB) will be accredited by the Council of Legal Education (Northern Ireland) as a recognised law degree, subject to time limits, exempting you from the academic stage of legal training to become a barrister or solicitors in Northern Ireland.
Completing the FLK route within the specified time limits will enable you to self certify that you have fulfilled the requirements set by the Bar Standards Board to be exempt from the academic stage of training if you wish to become a barrister in England and Wales.