1.1This chapter outlines the context of trust use in New Zealand including types of trusts, reasons for which people establish trusts and for the popularity of trusts, key features that make trust use in New Zealand distinctive and the reasons trusts are necessary. While the reform proposals in this paper primarily focus on core trust law and private express trusts, it is useful to explore the nature and variety of trusts and trust use in New Zealand.
1.2Trusts are with us as a part of New Zealand’s legal, social and business context and they are undoubtedly here to stay. They are here as a result of hundreds of years of legal development in England, and later, other countries of the Commonwealth. They are primarily governed by the judge-made law of equity, which was brought to New Zealand with British settlers. Legislation, like the Trustee Act 1956, provides an overlay to the concepts and rules that already exist in our law. In order for trusts to function efficiently and sensibly, it is necessary to have some rules on the administration and management of trusts and processes for decision-making and resolution of trust problems and disputes.