Spread Trustee Company Limited v Sarah Anne Hutcheson and Others  UKPC 13
The Privy Council case of Spread Trustee Company Limited v Hutcheson recently affirmed the decision of the United Kingdom Court of Appeal in Armitage v Nurse  Ch 241 deciding by 3:2 that, in Guernsey, trustees could limit their liability for gross negligence.
As indicated by the dissenting judgments, this case was a close call with compelling arguments on either side. However, this case may have limited application in New Zealand because:
- Guernsey's particular customary and statutory law, as it related to trustees limitation of liability at the time of the breach of trust (1989-1990), was central to the case
- New Zealand has specific legislation dealing with trustee liability. For example, section 62 of the Securities Act 1978 restricts the ability to limit the liability of a trustee.
There is also understandable reluctance in New Zealand (and, no doubt, in other jurisdictions) for trustees to limit their liability for gross negligence. This case should not be seen as a charter for grossly negligent trustees