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Equity, Commerce and Society


Module description

In this module you are able to specialise in areas of legal theory and practice that have relevance to commerce, charity and wealth management. The module builds on the core property modules, including Trusts Law, and seeks to show how equity has been transformed and adapted to various functions within market society.

We will be concerned with the office of fiduciary, the use of the trust as an investment vehicle, the offshoring of wealth in trusts and charitable trusts. We will also be concerned with the way in which the peculiar features of equity - in particular the notion of conscience - continue to have a relevance to these areas of law. We will also engage with broader understandings of the trust, in particular the way in which it has been presented in legal, social and political theory.

Indicative syllabus

  • The trust and the transition from feudalism to modernity
  • Alternative histories of equity: folk traditions, bureaucracy and the archive
  • Unincorporated associations, guilds and Maitland's neo-medievalism
  • Fiduciary society and its contents
  • Fiduciary society and its discontents
  • Equity and the trade in disembodied securities
  • The offshore trust
  • Equity, tracing and wealth
  • Charity and capital
  • Commerce, conscience and the futures of equity

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • have grasped the historical role of the trust and its transformation in modernity
  • have grasped the use of the trust as an investment vehicle with reference to the development of capitalism and colonialism
  • understand the use of the trust in offshoring wealth and concealing resources
  • have grasped the equitable responses to this problem, in particular the law of tracing
  • understand the relevance of the trust to charity
  • have a critical understanding of the office of fiduciary and the idea of fiduciary society
  • appreciate the political and social theory of the trust
  • appreciate alternative accounts of the trust and the uses of equity.