Jersey: Professional Trustees And Relief From Liability: A Higher Bar

Last Updated: 15 May 2018
Article by Mark Chudleigh and Caitlin Conyers

Crociani and others v Crociani and others [11.09.2017]

Under the trusts laws of most commonwealth jurisdictions, where a court finds a trustee personally liable for a breach of trust, the court has discretion to relieve that trustee of personal liability where the trustee has been honest, reasonable and where relief from liability would be fair. This discretion can provide an important protection for trustees and their professional indemnity insurers when faced with breach of trust claims.

In exercising this discretion, the Royal Court of Jersey in Crociani v Crociani [2017], has held that professional trustees should be held to a higher standard than a lay co-trustee, and that consideration should be had to a number of factors in determining whether conduct is reasonable.


At the centre of these complex proceedings is the Grand Trust, which was settled in 1987 by Edoarda Crociani (Madame Crociani) to create separate funds for the benefit of her daughters, Cristiana and Camilla.

Between 2010 and 2011, most of the Grand Trust's US$180 million in assets was transferred to BNP Paribas Jersey Trust Corporation Limited (BNP Jersey) and Madame Crociani as trustees of another trust created by Madame Crociani, the Fortunate Trust, of which Madame Crociani was the sole beneficiary during her lifetime (the 2010 Appointment). Cristiana had also transferred shares in Crica Investments Limited (Crica) to the Fortunate Trust, which were later transferred to Madame Crociani.

Madame Crociani subsequently dispersed all of the assets to undisclosed locations to hide them from Cristiana and her two children.

At the time of the 2010 Appointment, the trustees of the Grand Trust were Madame Crociani, Mr. Paul Foortse, a Dutch lawyer, and BNP Jersey (the Trustees).

In 2013, Cristiana and her children brought proceedings seeking to enforce their rights as beneficiaries of the Grand Trust and to reconstitute the Grand Trust with new trustees, alleging breach of trust by the Trustees. The Royal Court found in favour of the plaintiffs and declared void the 2010 Appointment. The Royal Court also held that the transfer of the Crica shares out of the Fortunate Trust to Madame Crociani had been in breach of the bare trust of those shares in favour of Cristiana.

There were various issues that arose for determination by the Royal Court. One of those issues was whether, on finding that BNP Jersey and Mr. Foortse were personally liable for breach of trust in relation to the 2010 Appointment and in relation to the transfer of the Crica shares, the Royal Court should exercise its discretion to relieve both BNP Jersey (as a professional co-trustee) and Mr. Foortse (as a lay co-trustee) of personal liability.

Relief from personal liability

The Royal Court made the following findings with respect to the relationship between BNP Jersey and Mr. Foortse:

  • It would be reasonable to expect a paid professional trustee to take the lead when acting with a lay co-trustee.
  • A paid professional trustee is under a duty to keep a lay co-trustee informed of legal advice received.
  • A lay co-trustee is entitled to assume that a professional trustee will not promote the exercise of a power unless it had satisfied itself that it was a valid exercise.

The Royal Court accepted that Mr. Foortse had no experience acting as a trustee and that he had taken on the role as a favour to Madame Crociani for no remuneration.

In the case of Mr. Foortse, having found that he had acted reasonably as a lay co-trustee, the Royal Court exercised its discretion in favour of granting relief, stating that the effect upon the beneficiaries of his being relieved would be minimal, and that enforcement against Mr. Foortse would probably only result in his financial ruin.

In respect of BNP Jersey, however, the Royal Court held that it had not acted reasonably, that it was a professional trustee, and that "enforcement against BNP Jersey is the only means by which the plaintiffs will, in practice, be able to achieve justice. BNP Jersey has the resources and ability to pursue Madame Crociani in order to recover the assets of the Grand Trust from her".


In the English Court of Appeal case of Re Pauling's Settlement [1964], it was stated that "it is almost a matter of principle that relief [from personal liability] under section 61 [of the Trustee Act 1925] is not open to professional trustees".

The Royal Court's findings in Crociani, therefore, do not depart from what appears to be a general rule, which distinguishes between a professional trustee and a lay trustee. The judgment in Crociani, however, will be of particular significance to professional trustees that have lay co-trustees, and the professional trustee should be mindful that they may be expected to take the lead when exercising trustee powers, and to ensure that they are keeping the co-trustee informed of legal advice received.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions