Clause 69 - Protection of trustees and personal representatives

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 6 December 2001.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 11:00, 6 December 2001

I think I see where the Parliamentary Secretary is coming from. However, will adoption law or trust law prevail? The trustees will not be guilty of wrongdoing because breaching a trust is not a criminal offence, although disaffected beneficiaries could bring a civil action. There is no comeback on the beneficiaries in trust law as regards the terms of a trust that specifies that non-adopted children can be the only beneficiaries.

The previous clause dealt with inheriting property and the equal treatment of the children. After the trust is distributed among the children, it may transpire that one of them is adopted and should not, therefore, qualify under trust law. Which body of law takes precedence in such a case? The issue is slightly complicated, and the circumstances are highly hypothetical. Can natural-born beneficiaries sue so that the share of the trust that is erroneously paid out to the adopted child is handed back? I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary gets my point.