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LAW2263 : Equity and Trusts

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Derek Whayman
  • Lecturer: Dr Christine Beuermann, Dr Ruth Houghton, Dr Conall Mallory
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


1) To develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of the equity, with a focus on the law of express and constructive trusts, including trust and fiduciary duties.

2) To understand the use of the trust in its original social context and in the modern context, both domestic and commercial.

3) To understand how the trust operates and how it must operate within these constraints.

4) To develop critical views on the aims, approaches and doctrine equity takes.

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction – What is equity; equity as assisting the common law

Formal and substantive requirements to constitute and administer the different types of trust (including the three certainties and the beneficiary principle and its exceptions, i.e. various purpose trusts)

The nature and purpose of fiduciary duties

Remedies against intermeddlers with trusts

The constructive trust over the family home (with a small section on resulting trusts)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities100:305:00MCQs as to (i) basic learning outcomes and (ii) ‘gotchas’; the latter feeding into further study.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Seminars. In the event of pandemic conditions, revert to videoconferencing.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00In the event of pandemic conditions, revert to videoconferencing.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1051:00105:00Reading, revision and seminar preparation
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecturing will be used to provide an overview of both matters that need to be known in outline (where little further reading is required) and also matters that need to be known in detail, where it must be followed up with self-study from textbook chapters and academic articles.

Self-study is critical in order for the learner to grasp the detail and to spend time considering the material in depth and working through problems and constructing arguments at a slow enough pace for deep learning.

Seminars focus on checking the effectiveness of that self-study, where learners can check they have understood the material properly, clear up misunderstandings and explore, in discussion, the further possibilities from where they have got to.

Learners should close the feedback loop by reconsidering the seminar material they have not fully understood or completed after a seminar in further self-study.

Five study cycles (= seminars) are required to meet the knowledge and skills objectives. With only 20 credits it is difficult to fit in sufficient different topics to meet the knowledge objectives of recurrent themes and coherence and thus the skills, particularly synthesis and evaluation, that are only developed with such knowledge objectives. Topic 1 is shorter in order to fit in with timetabling constraints. Without this 'extra' seminar above the normal four this would not be possible in Equity and Trusts.

Drop-in / surgery / office / feedback, guidance and consultation hours are a facility for another way of closing the feedback loop. Here, individual feedback and discussion is provided for matters there was insufficient time to deal with in a seminar, or where the issue was specific to a minority of learners such that the seminar had to more on.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination1352A75Inspera Digital Exam. 2 of 4 questions.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M251,500 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessed essay provides an opportunity to demonstrate research, writing and the analytical, synthetical, critical and evaluation skills. It requires the students to spend longer deepening their understanding and making connections across related doctrines and norms. It requires examination of how these norms and doctrines can or might work together in harmony or in tension. It requires the identification of how one constrains another, or how a change in one changes another. Such matters require considerable development of their ideas across a long period of time.

At a basic level, examination provides the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the knowledge-based outcomes of the syllabus. It also precludes, for the most part, skipping large parts of the module and even cheating. But memorisation is a lesser objective. More important is that examination provides: (i) the opportunity to demonstrate problem solving skills; and (ii) mental agility: the ability to juggle and manipulate a (necessarily limited) number of concepts held at one's fingertips, 'thinking on one's feet', making connections with limited resources/materials and 'responding to productive pressure'. There are very important skills to lawyers. Moreover, problem solving inherently requires a limited amount of time. Too much time, and the examination no longer measures problem solving ability, but instead a student's brute-force persistence in coming up with possibilities and weighing them up. Allowing too much time for such questions sends the wrong signal to students, that one needs not have the concepts at one's fingertips, but instead can simply look up the basics as and when they are needed. This dissuades them from developing the skills we want to inculcate, and inhibits their intellectual growth.

As noted in the assessment framework, the use of a low-stakes summative assessment can be more beneficial than a formative assessment, hence the arrangement. The students are incentivised to complete it because it carries weight through to the finals, but not so much weight that it can be highly damaging if things go wrong. Thus its feedback element is a big reason for this arrangement.

Reading Lists