HL Deb 04 April 1876 vol 228 cc1176-7

in asking a Question of the Lord Chancellor respecting the case of "Edmunds v. Edmunds," decided in the Court of Vice Chancellor Hall, said the case was one of considerable interest. Thomas Upfill died possessed of some shares in the Birmingham Banking Company and other property. He appointed three trustees, to whom he gave absolute power of conversion and sale and of investment, as they might think proper from time to time, Mr. Edmunds becoming the sole acting trustee. Mr. Edmunds did not convert the shares which the testator held at the time of his decease; but he not only retained these shares, but he purchased other shares in the same banking company out of the estate, the bank at the time being a success. Afterwards the shares fell in value, and Mr. Edmunds, the plaintiff, who had a beneficial interest under the will, sought to make Mr. Edmunds, the respondent, responsible for the loss on all the shares. The Vice Chancellor held that Mr. Edmunds was not liable for the loss on those which the testator had died possessed of, but he was made liable for the loss on the shares which he had purchased out of the estate. He (the Earl of Belmore) was himself a trustee, and if he understood the judgment of the Vice Chancellor correctly, he should be held liable for loss on any shares in which he might invest the trust property. He therefore desired to ask the Lord Chancellor, If his attention has been directed to the judgment of Vice Chancellor Sir Charles Hall on the 20th of March instant, in the case of "Edmunds v. Edmunds," as reported in The Times of the 21st March; and, if so, whether he had considered the desirability of proposing to Parliament some further legislation with a view of rendering more secure the position of trustees acting bonâ fide in the execution of trusts undertaken by them?


said, the noble Earl had derived his information from a newspaper report, which he had not read; but he had referred to the shorthand writer's notes of the judgment of the learned Vice Chancellor who decided the case. He found there was nothing in the case but what, he was sorry to say, frequently occurred in the Court of Chancery—a trustee had invested money in securities in which he had no authority to invest. He was authorized to hold those bank shares which the testator had purchased and bequeathed to him upon the trusts of his will, but he was not authorized to invest the testator's estate in the purchase of other shares, and therefore the Vice Chancellor could do nothing else than hold him liable for the loss sustained in the shares which he had purchased. In doing this, the Vice Chancellor had done that which Judges frequently found themselves compelled to do—that was, he had expressed his regret that he should have to give judgment against a man who had done no moral wrong. That being so, he saw no necessity for any alteration in the law. He would remind their Lordships that out of tenderness to trustees an Act of Parliament was a few years ago passed enabling trustees, when they had investments to make, to apply to a Judge in Chambers for advice as to the mode of making them, and if they procured that advice they were indemnified in case any loss should accrue to the estate of which they were trustees.

House adjourned at half past Six o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter before Two o'clock.