Pitt and Another v Holt and Others: ChD 18 Jan 2010

The deceased had created a settlement in favour of his wife. He suffered serious injury and placed the damages in trust, but in a form which created an unnecessary liability to Inheritance Tax on his death. The wife’s mental health act receiver now sought the unravelling of the trust based on either Hastings Bass or mistake.
Held: The rule in Hastings-Bass could be used by others than only trustees. Robert Englehart QC said: ‘A mere failure by someone to take a material consideration into account in the conduct of his own affairs will not justify setting aside for mistake. It was said in argument before me that the law allows you to be as foolish as you like with your own property. On the other hand, there certainly is jurisdiction, irrespective of any trust or fiduciary element, to set aside a voluntary transaction where there has been an operative mistake. Nevertheless, for the rule in Hastings-Bass to apply there is no need to identify a mistake as such, as opposed to a failure to take a relevant consideration into account.’ though there was no real mistake, only a failure to address the effect of the arrangement fully, the rule in Hastings-Bass could be applied and the trust varied.

Robert Englehart, QC
[2010] EWHC 236 (Ch)
Bailii, Times
Mental Health Act 1983
England and Wales
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The advisers to trustees wrongly advised the trustees about the tax consequences of exercising a power of appointment in a certain way. As a result a large unforeseen Capital Gains Tax liability arose. The trustees sought to set aside the . .
CitedRe Hastings-Bass; Hastings v Inland Revenue CA 14-Mar-1974
Trustees of a settlement had exercised their power of advancement under the section, in order to save estate duty by transferring investments to be held on the trusts of a later settlement. However the actual effect of the advancement was that the . .
CitedMettoy Pension Trustees v Evans ChD 1990
Where a trustee acts under a discretion given to him by the terms of the trust the court will interfere with his action if it is clear that he would not have so acted as he did had he not failed to take into account considerations which he ought to . .
CitedByng v London Life Association CA 1990
The venue selected for a meeting of the members of a company was too small to accommodate all the members who attended, and so the chairman adjourned the meeting to an alternative venue.
Held: The decision by the chairman was set aside on the . .
CitedGibbon v Mitchell ChD 1990
G executed a deed surrendering his life interest in a trust fund in order to vest the property in his two children: the deed did not have that effect because of two errors (one of which was ignoring the fact that his life interest was subject to . .
CitedHunter v Senate Support Services Ltd and others ChD 2005
The court set aside a forfeiture of shares for non-payment of a call. The decisions of the directors to forfeit the shares and to transfer the forfeited shares to the group holding company were flawed, though not improperly motivated, because the . .
CitedEdge and others v Pensions Ombudsman and Another CA 29-Jul-1999
The Pensions Ombudsman was wrong to set aside the decision of pensions trustees where that decision was properly made within the scope of a discretion given to the Trustees. He should not carry out an investigation where no particular benefit could . .
CitedEquitable Life Assurance Society v Hyman HL 20-Jul-2000
The directors of the Society had calculated the final bonuses to be allocated to policyholders in a manner which was found to be contrary to the terms of the policy. The language of the article conferring the power to declare such bonuses contained . .
CitedAnker-Petersen v Christensen ChD 2002
Where a mistake is made as to the effect of an appointment under a trust it may be possible to invoke the court’s jurisdiction to rescind the appointment. Davis J considered Millett J’s distinction between ‘effect’ and ‘consequences’: ‘An example in . .
CitedOgden and Another v Trustees of the RHS Griffiths 2003 Settlement and others; In Re Griffiths deceased ChD 25-Jan-2008
A life-time transfer which had been made under a mistake as to the donor’s chances of surviving long enough for the transfer to be exempt from Inheritance Tax was set aside. Unbeknown to the donor, he had lung cancer at the time.
Held: Lewison . .
CitedWolff v Wolff ChD 6-Sep-2004
The court considered its ability to redraw a document where its legal effect was misunderstood. . .
CitedAbacus Trust Company (Isle of Man) Colyb Limited v Barr, Barr, and Barr ChD 6-Feb-2003
The court considered the Rule in Hastings-Bass, and specifically (1) whether the trustee’s decision is open to challenge when the failure to take a consideration into account is not attributable to a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of the . .
CitedOgilvie v Littleboy CA 1897
Lindley LJ discussed the variation of a gift for mistake: ‘Gifts cannot be revoked, nor can deeds be set aside, simply because the donors wish they had not made them and would like to have back the property given. Where there is no fraud, no undue . .
CitedBurrell and Sharman v Burrell, Shore, Tyrrell, etc ChD 23-Feb-2005
Shares were appointed by trustees in the mistaken belief that they attracted business property relief from Inheritance tax. They sought to set aside the appointment.
Held: Mann J applied the rule in Stannard v Fisons Pensions Trust and . .

Cited by:
CitedFutter and Another v Futter and Others ChD 11-Mar-2010
Various family settlements had been created. The trustees wished to use the rule in Hastings-Bass to re-open decisions they had made after receiving incorrect advice.
Held: The deeds were set aside as void. The Rule in Hastings-Bass derives . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Trusts, Wills and Probate, Inheritance Tax

Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.396742