STEP Journal Book review: Contentious Trusts Handbook, Practice and Precedents

Book review: Contentious Trusts Handbook, Practice and Precedents

Monday, 18 October 2021

Published in the STEP Journal, Issue 5, 2021

Richard Dew TEP reviews Contentious Trusts Handbook, Practice and Precedents

By Carl Islam TEP

Reviewed by Richard Dew TEP

As the foreword to this book states, the unfortunate fact is that the risk of trustees becoming involved in court proceedings is on the increase. This book, described as a handbook, aims to provide the busy practitioner with a practical overview of the key themes and to guide them through each stage of proceedings, from pre‑action to settlement or trial.

The book contains a series of concise chapters covering the core concepts of contested trusts, including the powers of trustees, trustee duties, breach of trust, claims, equitable remedies and defences. Each chapter quotes from, or references, the key authorities in the area such that the reader has no doubt as to the key applicable principles and their effect. Importantly, for a book on contentious trusts, it goes on to describe the process and core concepts for litigation in England and Wales and the key principles relating to costs, and it has a whole chapter devoted to alternative dispute resolution and settlement. There are also three brief notes, written by experts, on art and heritage assets, trust litigation in the Cayman Islands and mediation.

For many – and especially for those new to the area or looking to practise in an area not core to them – the appendix will be invaluable, containing as it does a number of precedents for applications and claims involving trusts, alleging breach of trust, making Part 36 offers (under the Civil Procedure Rules) and so on. Inevitably, not every precedent that could be desired is there, but most will find that those that are there can be adapted to their purposes.

This is not, and does not pretend to be, a Lewin on Trusts. For detailed discussion of difficult areas of the law, the reader will need to look elsewhere. In many ways, though, this is a key advantage of this book, as it is not weighed down by lengthy discussions of disputed areas of law, but instead gives the reader what they need to know when arguing – or defending – a contentious case.

Overall, the book admirably meets the authors aims. It fills a clear need for a simple guide to the principles and conduct of trust litigation and should be a welcome addition to all practitioners’ libraries.

First edition
Publisher: The Law Society
ISBN: 9781784461249

See also the Book Review by J.J. Meagher published in Trusts & Trustees (Oxford University Press) (08.06.2021) – Review of my book in Trusts & Trustees (Oxford University Press) | Carl’s Wealth Planning Blog

For more information about the book please visit: Contentious Trusts Handbook – Carl Islam

I am also developing the outline of a six hour course to present by Zoom from May 2022 provisionally entitled, ‘Mediation of Probate, Inheritance Act, and Trust Disputes – A Toolkit for Mediators and Participants’. For more information please visit the ‘About Carl’ page at