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To err is human

Trustees are open to making costly mistakes now the Supreme Court has handed down its judgment on Pitt and Futter, says Lloyd Junor

16 July 2013

The long-awaited decisions of the Supreme Court in Pitt v Holt and Futter v Futter will have significant implications for practitioners. The two lengthy and unanimous judgments (handed down on 9 May 2013) concerned applying the law of mistake to trustees' decisions.

Futter provides a definitive guide to trustees in applications under the rule in Re Hastings-Bass (a rule that provides for relief against mistake where the exercise of discretion resulted in tax or other consequences that were unintended). Pitt also provides guidance about the broader equitable jurisdiction to set aside a voluntary disposition for mistake.

Most trustees will be well aware of the rule in Re Hastings-Bass, which was a welcome 'get out of jail free' car...

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