Relationship Property and Trusts: the "Bundle of Rights" Theory?
This dissertation examines the “bundle of rights” theory as it meets at the intersection of trust and family property law. Drawing on conceptions of property, the principles and purposes of the Property (Relationships) Act and contrasted with trust law, a theory is adopted to explain why family property law has presumptive power over trust principles. Orthodox trust principles are discussed to explain why trust assets are protected from third party claims, the importance of the laws of powers and fiduciary obligations, the problems created by settlor or appointor control and the reason a “controller” is a beneficial owner of trust assets. The dispositions of relationship property to trusts and the limits on compensatory payments are discussed alongside the significance of the abolition of gift duty, other statutory remedies and judicial responses. Case authorities are explored, similarities with Australian alter ego trusts are drawn upon, and the application of the “bundle of rights” theory is discussed with reference to the valuation of debts and occupation orders. The dissertation concludes that the “bundle of rights” theory draws on an expansive meaning of property, it is a principled approach but confined to the Act.