Diffusion and Transformation of Trusts: From England to East Asia

Nov 16, 2016 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Masayuki Tamaruya (Professor of Law, Rikkyo University; HYI Visiting Scholar; EALS Visiting Scholar)
Chair/Discussant: Robert H. Sitkoff (John L. Gray Professor of Law, Harvard Law School)
Co-sponsored with the Asia Center and East Asian Legal Studies
Trust is a legal term that is notoriously difficult to define. Functionally, it is an arrangement where a person (settlor) entrusts certain assets to another (trustee) so that the latter will hold and manage them for the benefit of a third person (beneficiary). The basic framework of trust law was formulated by the English court, and since the mid-eighteenth century, the use of trusts has spread to a number of jurisdictions around the globe with great varieties of application. This talk will explore the two routes of trust diffusion. One route left England and went east, round the Cape of Good Hope and onwards, namely, South Africa, India, Singapore and Hong Kong. The other route went west, across North America, and then to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. The two routes first merged in early twentieth century Japan, but the process did not end there. During the latter half of the twentieth century, major trust practices flourished and innovative trust legislation was passed in East Asian jurisdictions, with mainland China forming one of the focal points of global evolution of trust law today. The historical study will illuminate the complex interaction of social, economic and geopolitical factors that shape the evolution of law across jurisdictional borders.