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Critical Trusts Law: Reading Roger Cotterrell

Eds. Nick Piška and Hayley Gibson
Lecturers in Law, University of Kent

In his 1987 article, ‘Power, Property and the Law of Trusts: a A Partial Agenda for Critical Legal Scholarship’, Roger Cotterrell outlined for the first time a critical, socio-legal approach to the law of trusts. For Cotterrell, law is both instrumental and ideological. As such, critical analysis aims at the demystification of law: how does law structure and guarantee, on the one hand, yet legitimate and hide, on the other, the exercise of power? Thirty years later, Cotterrell’s work continues to pose questions of power, property, ideology and inequality, opening new perspectives on the broader societal significance of the effects of trusts law.

This edited collection revisits themes and theoretical perspectives in Roger Cotterrell’s now canonical work, bringing the theoretical insights of sociological and critical theory to the field of trusts. Trusts have a major impact on the functioning of state and society which are often overlooked, with the emphasis usually being given to the corporate form. For example, trusts contribute to (global) avoidance of taxes and regulations, the enabling of money-laundering and the production and legitimation of wealth inequality across generations through ‘estate planning’, as illustrated by the revelations in both the Panama Papers and, more recently, the Paradise Papers.

The collection is the only collection of essays undertaking critical, interdisciplinary work on the law of trusts. Themes explored by contributors include power in trusts law and practice, trusts and moral-distancing, ideology, and wealth inequality, as well as theoretical perspectives not explored by Cotterrell, such as economic theology, race and gender.

The collection will be of interest to trusts scholars looking for critical reflections on trusts law, theory and practice, as well as academics researching the nexus of law and wealth inequality and global financial capitalism. The collection will be useful to both academic researchers and for those teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses on trusts law, private law theory,  critical legal theory, and global financial capitalism.

Expected 29 April 2019 (Notify when available)