Senior members of the Jersey fiduciary sector were put through their paces at a mock trial conducted by Carey Olsen and Wilberforce Chambers at the Pomme D'or Hotel last week.

More than 100 senior trust professionals were set a challenge to either defend or attack a trustee’s decision to move £5 million from a trust to a beneficiary’s account. The aim of the day, which included workshops, interactive breakout sessions and the mock trial, was to remind trust practitioners of the duties involved in the decision-making process and what can happen when the decision ends up in litigation.

Carey Olsen partners Robert MacRae and Paul Buckle worked with Wilberforce Chambers’ barristers Michael Furness QC, Daniel Hochberg, Robert Ham QC and Judith Bryant in hosting the event, giving their expert views on the scenario laid out.

Advocate MacRae defended the trustee’s decision while Daniel Hochberg attacked the decision, calling for it to be set aside. Robert Ham QC acted as the trial judge and put the litigators through their paces before ruling in favour of the defence.

“The topic of trustee decision making is very much in the spotlight at the moment and, while it is something trustees do all the time, it is perhaps particularly topical at present due to the serious challenges being made to the ruling in Hastings Bass – principally by HMRC,” said Advocate MacRae.

John Perkins, deputy managing partner at Key Trust Company Limited, said: “The matters covered were topical and interesting and I particularly enjoyed the mock trial format at the end which was both entertaining and provided a really useful summary of the points raised about the sort of decisions we make as trustees.”

The seminar took place on Wednesday 13 October 2010.