2024 Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture - 27.03.24

Event details

‘Knowing Receipt, Fiduciary Duties and Equitable Interests in Property'

Presented by Prof. Charles Mitchell KC (Hon) FBA, University College London

The 2024 Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture

Liability for knowing receipt is incurred when defendants receive legal title to trust property with unconscionable knowledge that the trustee was not authorised to transfer it to them.

Liability is also incurred when defendants receive property from other people who act beyond limits enforceable in equity that are placed on their powers to transfer legal title, e.g. company directors and administrators of a deceased person’s estate. It is often said that claimants must show that the property was transferred 'in breach of fiduciary duty'. However, this is confusing because courts often use this term in two different senses – to denote either a duty to avoid conflicts of interest or a duty of due administration (meaning a duty to comply with the terms on which a power has been given to control and dispose of property). Confusion has also been caused by findings that a claimant must have had an ‘equitable interest’ in the relevant property that was not destroyed before, or at the time of, a defendant’s receipt. The problem with this is that the juridical content of the claimant’s ‘interest’ has not been clearly defined.

This lecture will examine both sets of problems and suggest some solutions.

Prof. Charles Mitchell KC (Hon) FBA

Professor Charles Mitchell KC (Hon) FBA is a Professor of Law at University College London. His main research interests are equity, trusts, and unjust enrichment.

His recent publications include co-authored editions of Underhill and Hayton’s Law Relating to Trusts and Trustees and Goff and Jones on Unjust Enrichment. His work has been discussed in many leading cases, including AIB Group (UK) plc v Mark Redler & Co [2015] AC 1503; Menelaou v Bank of Cyprus plc [2016] AC 176; Sim Poh Ping v Winsta Holding Pte Ltd [2020] 1 SLR 1199; Sevilleja v Marex Financial Ltd [2021] AC 39; and Byers v Saudi National Bank [2022] 4 WLR 22 affirmed [2024] 2 WLR 237.

The Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture series

In 1958, Ethel Thorpe Southey, better known as Nancy Southey, made a gift to the University of Melbourne to endow a law lectureship in memory of her husband Allen Hope Southey, who had graduated as a Master of Laws in the University in 1917 and died in 1929 at the age of 35. Thirty years later, the Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture again enjoyed the support of the Southey family as they made further donations to build on Nancy Southey’s initiative. Forty years later, Mr and Mrs Southey’s son, Sir Robert Southey, made a generous gift in his will to the lectureship fund his mother had established. In 2008, 50 years later, the five sons of Sir Robert Southey continued the family’s support of the Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture at Melbourne Law School.