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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

Conventional but bare trusts: Saunders v Vautier

In certain circumstances a settlor may set up a trust which at first sight appears to be a conventional trust with settled property, trustees, one or more beneficiaries and powers and duties of the trustees set out in the deed. If however one person, has all the interests under the settlement, then under the principle in Saunders v Vautier, (1841) 4 Beav 115, he or she may call upon the trustees to hand over the property. If so then that person is absolutely entitled as against the trustees and TCGA92/S60, see CG34320, applies. See CG34321 where there are several beneficiaries.

In Saunders v Vautier the testator left stock to trustees in trust to accumulate the interest until Vautier reached the age of 25 and then hand over stock and accumulations to him. When he reached 21 he claimed the whole fund because he had a vested interest and the accumulations were for his benefit only.

The Master of the Rolls said: `Where a legacy is directed to accumulate for a certain period, or where the payment is postponed, the legatee, if he has an absolutely indefeasible interest in the legacy, is not bound to wait until the expiration of that period, but may require payment the moment he is competent to give a valid discharge,’ in other words, at majority.

Similar principles apply in Scottish law except that the holder of an alimentary liferent, even if he or she has every other interest, can only terminate the settlement with the court’s consent, Section1(4) Trusts (Scotland) Act 1961.