A Dissenting View

In the interest of balance it behoves us to put before you views opposed to the purpose and intent of The Almshouse Residents Action Group. Search as we might we could in truth only find one, immersed in a greater document, The Difficulties in Impeaching Trustees´ Exercise of Discretionary Functions published in 2002 by legal author David John Hayton. Under the sub-heading “Broad Leeway Afforded To Trustees” Mr Hayton opines:

 “Very well-established private trust law rights of beneficiaries already protect them so surely there is no scope to invoke public law principles. The office of trustee is a private one where much leeway is afforded to a trustee as to how to keep himself adequately informed to be in a position to fulfil his duties. It would be inappropriate to lay down fixed procedural rules as to hearing both sides e.g. to hear what the default beneficiaries have to say before exercising a power of appointment in favour of others . I am pleased to see that in the recent case of R v Charity Commissioners ex p Baldwin, [2001] WTLR 137 a Deputy Judge, Jack Beatson QC did in fact say that in the trust law context where the trustees were working out what benefits they should give to certain people and not to others, their duty was to be properly informed but that they did not have to offer to receive representations from both sides. I think we should be able to hold the line there,….”

Considering that what the trustees in question were “working out” was how to evict Linda Lucille Baldwin, we consider Mr Hayton’s conclusions to be the epitome of detached complacency.

And as for Mr Hayton’s hypothetical trustee ‘adequately informing himself’; a good starting point would be for him to adequately inform himself of the inadequacy, according to UN criteria, of the housing system he purports to administer. That, and the fact that he is violating the hypothetical beneficiary’s human rights as a citizen of the European Union.

As to Mr Hayton’s vaunting of the protection afforded by “very well-established private trust law rights”, he has surely conflated the robust protection afforded to beneficiaries in pecuniarity under the Underhill definition of a trust with the paucity of protection afforded to beneficiaries in paupery under the law of charitable trusts. It’s a classic case of a lawyer not being able to see the wood for the trees.

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