Re Schebsman: CA 1944

The import into commercial law of equitable principles would be inconsistent with the certainty and speed which are the essential requirements for the orderly conduct of business affairs.
Lord Greene MR said: ‘The first question which arises is whether or not the debtor was a trustee for his wife and daughter of the benefit of the undertaking given by the English company in their favour. An examination of the decided cases does, it is true, show that the courts have on occasions adopted what may be called a liberal view on questions of this character, but in the present case I cannot find in the contract anything to justify the conclusion that a trust was intended. It is not legitimate to import into the contract the idea of a trust when the parties have given no indication that such was their intention. To interpret this contract as creating a trust would, in my judgment, be to disregard the dividing line between the case of a trust and the simple case of a contract made between two persons for the benefit of a third.’
du Parcq LJ said: ‘It now remains to consider the question whether, and if so to what extent, the principles of equity affect the position of the parties. It was argued by Mr. Denning that one effect of the agreement of September 20, 1940, was that a trust was thereby created, and that the debtor constituted himself trustee for Mrs. Schebsman of the benefit of the covenant under which payments were to be made to her. Uthwatt J. rejected this contention, and the argument has not satisfied me that he was wrong. It is true that, by the use possibly of unguarded language, a person may create a trust, as Monsieur Jourdain talked prose, without knowing it, but unless an intention to create a trust is clearly to be collected from the language used and the circumstances of the case, I think that the court ought not to be astute to discover indications of such an intention.’


Lord Greene MR, du Parcq LJ


[1944] Ch 83

Cited by:

CitedWilliams v Central Bank of Nigeria QBD 24-Jan-2012
The claimant asserted involvement by the defendant bank in a fraud perpetrated against him. Jurisdiction had already been admitted for one trust , and now the claimant sought to add two further claims.
Held: ‘None of the gateways to English . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Equity, Commercial

Updated: 11 May 2022; Ref: scu.537034