13.14During the consultation phase of the project the option of providing for the Public Trust to have a greater role under new legislation was suggested as an alternative to having an ombudsman, tribunal or commission. While this option would be significantly narrower than what was envisaged for an alternative mechanism for dispute resolution, the Public Trust does present an attractive alternative for carrying out relatively straightforward administrative processes and the provision of advice. Currently only the High Court has the power to issue certificates and approvals, which could conceivably be carried out by a different independent body with reduced cost and delay.
13.16Following consultation with the Public Trust, we propose that it should be able to carry out a number of administrative functions under trusts legislation. While it is not suited to resolving disputes between parties, the Public Trust is comfortable with gaining additional functions under a new trusts statute if the functions are of a similar nature to those it has currently. The court’s jurisdiction should remain in place, but where a matter is straightforward and there is no dispute among parties, the Public Trust can provide orders, certificates and advice on specific matters. The proposed roles for the Public Trust include:
13.17Most of these proposals are discussed in more detail in the relevant chapters. Overall the primary argument in favour of conferring additional administrative functions on the Public Trust is that it will be more efficient and cost-effective for the administration of trusts. It addresses the concern raised by many submitters that requiring court processes for administrative matters is time consuming and expensive, and adds unnecessary complication. The main argument in opposition is that the court should retain supervision of trusts. However, the proposed functions above would still be subject to court supervision, but would provide a mechanism for lower level supervision of administrative matters. The Public Trust would be able to refuse to exercise the powers in the list above if it considered that court supervision was appropriate in the context. The Public Trust would be able to charge a fee for carrying out these functions in order to cover their costs.