Time of your life.

By Chiara, University “Federico II”, Italy

 

When I went to the airport with my friend, a couple of nights ago, I later took a taxi to go back home. It was six in the morning and not at all near dawn, and the car followed the same route of the taxi that got me home for the first time, five months ago. I remember my past self looking out of the window and wondering whether my new house would look the same as the ones I was seeing passing by, all red bricks and round edges.

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A month before that, I was looking at the city on a map, trying to imagine what my life – what everything would be like. It all feels like centuries have passed, as if I were a completely different person from when I began.

To be honest, I think I am. And that’s what makes going home so scary now.

Will I be the same as I am now? Will I go back to being what I was before? Will I remember the important things this city has taught me? Will I forget?

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Last night on Earth

By Chiara, University “Federico II”, Italy

 

As a child, I loved to travel at night. I loved to get up when it was dark outside and watch as the sky turned light blue then gray then pink and gold. It felt like an adventure, and as if my excitement couldn’t be contained by a normal night’s sleep.

This kind of travels were rare, but I still woke up before dawn on some other special occasions; I remember doing this on my tenth birthday, and before school trips, and after my last high school exam. Watching the sun go up would make me feel so calm and peaceful and at the same time impatient to see what the new day would bring me.

Sometimes I would not even go to sleep: I would stay awake all night until the sun rose. Some of these nights are the best memories I have in my life, moments in which time seemed to stop and the night stretch on forever, then bursting in the blinding light of a new day. I call these moments my ‘last nights on Earth’, maybe because it feels like leaving something behind, maybe because it feels like beginning anew again. Tonight is both.

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Just like time travel

By Chiara, University “Federico II”, Italy

One week from today I’m going home.

I spent 92 days in this country. In seven days I’ll be seeing my family again. Yesterday I took one of my final exams. Two days ago my roommates left our house forever.

Let it sink in: it’s Christmas in less than two weeks. I made it to week 12. Three months ago I didn’t think I would make it to week 3.

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British Property Law: How to Define a Valid Trust

One of the more startling aspects of studying abroad was learning that British students at the University of Manchester Faculty of Law begin studying trusts before general real estate in introductory property law courses. As a Canadian law student, ‘Trusts’ and ‘Wills and Estates’ are taught as advanced level upper year courses, which are not touched upon in the 1L program. I am personally intending to take the ‘Trusts’ course in my final semester of 3L. As a result, I’ve had to catch up a bit with the British program!

Roughly speaking, a trust is property transferred to a trustee that is ‘on trust’ for beneficiaries. This is distinct from a gift, which is property transferred absolutely to a donee, and also unique from a power of appointment, where property is transferred to a trustee but the donee of the power of appointment is given the power to select who should receive the property. These concepts are all virtually identical in Canadian law.

To break down these concepts even further, a trustee can choose to distribute their property through a fixed trust or a discretionary trust (where the beneficial class is certain but trustees have discretion as to individual beneficiaries and/or beneficial shares). Most importantly, whether or not a trust is fixed or discretionary, it can only be valid when the following criteria are met:

  1. There is certainty of intention to create a trust;
  2. There is certainty of subject matter; and
  3. There are certainty of objects.

The seminal British case dealing with the concept of validity is Knight v Knight (1840) 3 Beav 148. In this case, there was an attempt made to dispose of a large amount of property via trusts and wills. The significant phrase used was: “I trust to the liberality of my successors to reward any others of my old servants and tenants according to the deserts, and to their justice in continuing the estates in the male succession, according to the will of the founder of my family, my above-named grandfather Richard Knight.”

The question for the courts was whether this was a will, a general statement, or a power of appointment. The phrase “I trust” was pivotal: was this a casual “I expect them to do so …” or significant enough to create a valid trust? While the testator was expecting successors to be liberal and just when rewarding his old servants and tenants, this is a call to moral justice. But does a call to moral justice create an obligation to leave property down the male lineage and/or give money to past employees?

Lord Langdale specified that the three certainties needed to be judged objectively according to the language of the document. He emphasized that courts should not intervene in order to make a will for a testator  if they had not been clear in doing so themselves. In simpler terms, the testator was not clear in his intentions – and the courts should not read his mind. It is a testator’s obligation to set out his mind in a will, which was emphasized again in the recent case of McPhail v Doulton [1971] AC 424 by Lord Wilberforce, who noted that a trust will only be valid if it is practically certain what the settlor wanted to do.

This brings us to the next general question: are words imperative?

It’s important to note that in British law, trusts can be created without using words at all, which are a subset of trusts known as implied trusts. Re Kayford Ltd [1975] 1 WLR 279 [Kayford] is authority for the proposition that the word ‘trust’ is not needed to create a valid trust: courts are allowed to look to the intention of the parties rather than the form of the document. In Kayford, a mail order company was in financial difficulty. A separate bank account had been created to deposit money for customers whose goods hadn’t been used; the main question of the case revolved around whether the money in the bank account was the assets of the creditors, post-insolvency, or the original customers.

In Kayford, even though the formal word ‘trust’ was not used, the conduct of the parties was clear. A valid trust had been created. Due to the presence of a separate bank account, the customers were able to get their money back: actions spoke louder than words.

However, the British case law is somewhat muddled on this point. Alternately, in Re Snowden (Deceased) [1979] 2 All ER 172, an elderly lady left property to her brother in her will, stating that he would know what to do with it. The court found that there was no obligation imposed to create a trust – instead, this was an absolute gift. Although there was a moral obligation on the brother, a moral obligation is not enough to create a legal or fiduciary one.

Similarly, in Jones v Lock [1865] LR 1 Ch App 25, a father placed a cheque for his infant son in his safe. While he made an appointment to see a solicitor to change his will so that his infant son would receive his money upon his death, he died before actually changing the will. Unfortunately for the child, the courts held that there was no intention to create a trust. While it was self-evident that the father intended the son to receive his property, simply putting the cheque into a safe did not manifest the intention that he was holding property as a trustee for his son. The justification for this decision stems from a policy argument: the courts argued that it would create a dangerous precedent should a valid trust have been found.

Looking forward to learning more in the final two months of the semester!

Cheers,

Tamie Dolny

 

Departure Gate 16: How This Kiwi Flew The Nest And Ended Up Halfway Around The World

Author: Michaella//University of Auckland//New Zealand

Hello lovely readers! My name is Michaella and I am a second year BA student studying English and Drama (usually at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, but for one semester I’ll be commencing my studies here at the University of Manchester!) A few short things about myself before I launch into this post is:
-I’m a dog person
-My favourite food is pretty much anything involving chicken
-If Shakespeare was still alive today I would probably die for him if need be (fave play is Othello if any of you were wondering)
-And I chose to study in Manchester because A) It’s in the United Kingdom, and I’ve been dying to come here since I was 14, and B) My friends visited once and they said that out of all of Europe, Manchester was their favourite place (And I’m beginning to see why!)

So now that we’re acquainted, I’ll get started with my first blog post here covering my journey from New Zealand to Manchester, with all the highs and lows and in-betweens. Continue reading