A dog’s breakfast; defective trust instruments rescued - Bowack v Saxton [2020] EWHC 1049 (Ch)

Publication Date:
26 May 2020


In 2013 the Claimants paid £750,000 to establish two discretionary trusts containing AXA offshore bonds in the Isle of Man. In a meeting with a financial planner from Hargreaves Lansdown, they both executed standard form declarations of trust intended to appoint themselves and their daughter as trustees, and their daughter as principal beneficiary. However, there were a string of defects in the documentation:

  • The effective date was left blank
  • The trust property (the bonds) were not identified
  • The signature of the daughter as trustee was not witnessed

Two bonds were issued, one in the name of each claimant, to a value of £750,000. However, AXA refused to recognise the trusts, because the signature of the daughter was not witnessed and no identity documents had been provided. The bonds themselves were subject to Manx law and only assignable with the company’s agreement. 


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