Contentious Trusts and Estates
A leading trust litigation firm
Wynn Williams is one of New Zealand's leading trust law litigation firms. We have a specialist trust litigation team dedicated to this area.
Wynn Williams has unrivalled expertise in disputes involving trusts – whether family trusts, charitable or trusts used for commercial purposes.  That expertise is invaluable to clients as the increasingly frequent use of trusts means problems regularly arise in this complex legal area.  Our leading reputation is recognised throughout the legal profession; our partners have contributed to New Zealand's leading text on equity and trusts, are frequently published in academic journals and regularly invited to present at seminars and conferences by the New Zealand Law Society.
Our trust litigation team has acted in many of New Zealand's leading cases involving trust and fiduciary law.   Wynn Williams regularly acts in trust disputes in commercial, charitable, relationship property, and private client contexts. The trust litigation team adds value by providing quick, clear advice in one of the law's most complex areas. 
Our trust litigation team takes instructions from solicitors, accountants, banks, and trustee companies throughout New Zealand.


Recent Projects

  • Acting for the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch and the Church Property Trustees in relation to ChristChurch Cathedral.
  • Represented a member of one of New Zealand's wealthiest families in multi-proceeding litigation around family trusts.
  • Successfully appearing in the Supreme Court in leading trust case of Kain v Hutton [2008] NZSC 61
  • Representing estate beneficiaries challenging a will.
  • Successfully acted for clients in relationship property disputes involving 'trust busting'.



The Arbitration Amendment Bill 2017

Jeremy Johnson contributes to an article on The Arbitration Amendment Bill 2017 for LawTalk Magazine.

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Arbitration of trust disputes: a new frontier

The Arbitration Act 1996 (Act) was enacted to facilitate the arbitration of commercial disputes and to enable international arbitration so that disputes decided here can be easily enforced in other jurisdictions. In principle, the incorporation of an arbitration clause should lead to the successful resolution of such disputes in a private, expeditious, and cost-effective way.

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Farewell to Hastings-Bass? [2013] NZLJ 249

The “rule in Hastings-Bass” (In re Hastings Bass [1975] Ch 25, [1974] 2 All ER 193 (CA)) is a misnomer and its application has been too liberal. So said Lord Walker in his swan song judgment for a unanimous United Kingdom Supreme Court in Futter v Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs [2013] UKSC 26, on appeal from a unanimous decision of the English Court of Appeal on two cases heard jointly (Pitt v Holt and Futter v Futter [2011] EWCA CIV 197, [2012] Ch 132, [2011] All ER 450)

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Lending to Trusts

New Zealand has a large number of family trusts per capita. Lending to trustees and taking guarantees and securities from trustees is becoming very common. Unfortunately, a trust can mean big problems for lenders wishing to enforce their rights. To see why this is we'll look at how trusts work and then look at how this impacts on unsecured lenders and secured lenders.

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The Rule Against Perpetuities

Download the pdf of this presentation prepared...

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Trustees Indemnity - Litigation Costs

A trustee is not always entitled to recoup his or her litigation expenses from the trust fund. Often a
trustee will have to await the outcome of litigation before he or she can exercise any right of indemnity. There
are now over 300,000 trusts in New Zealand and an increasing number of trust disputes are being brought before the courts (Wear “QCsaysNZneeds specialist trust bar”Lawtalk, 18 February 2008). However, it is still common for trustees to be advised that they are entitled to have their litigation expenses met out of the trust fund. This is not always the case.

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Reported Decisions

  • Great Christchurch Buildings Trust v Church Property Trustees [2013] 3 NZLR 597
  • Great Christchurch Buildings Trust v Church Property Trustees [2013] 2 NZLR 230
  • Kain v Hutton [2008] 3 NZLR 589
  • Kain v Hutton [2007] 3 NZLR 349
  • Chirnside & Rattray Properties Ltd v Fay, Supreme Court [2004] 3 NZLR 689 (CA)
  • Morris v Templeton (2000) 14 PRNZ 397
  • Chirnside v Fay [2007] 1 NZLR 433
  • Powell v Powell [2014] NZHC 476
  • Church Property Trustees v Attorney-General [2013] 2 NZLR 428
  • Gough v Strahl [2013] NZHC 3184
  • Tui Trust Mining Limited v Minister of Energy (2011) 16 ELRNZ 505; [2012] NZRMA 25
  • Savin v De Vere (1986) 3 NZ ConvC 99, 703

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Wynn Williams Christchurch
Level 5, Wynn Williams House, 47 Hereford Street, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand.
PO Box 4341, DX WX11179, Christchurch 8140.
+64 3 379 7622
+64 3 379 2467
Wynn Williams Auckland
Level 25, Vero Centre, 48 Shortland Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
PO Box 2401, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.
+64 9 300 2600
+64 9 300 2609

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