The Law Commission is seeking feedback on a number of proposed reforms designed to make the law governing trusts clearer and more accessible. A copy of the issues paper is available here.

This recent paper follows five previous papers on the topic and marks both the end of an extensive research and consultation process and a last opportunity for interested parties to comment on suggestions for reform before a final report is published in full next year.

Extensive proposals are set out in the paper, with requests for feedback and comments throughout. Some of the proposals are significant, for example the suggested default duration of 150 years for all trusts (leaving optional discretion to the drafting of the trust deed) and abolishing the common law rule against perpetuities in New Zealand. The Commission also proposes a new trusts statute to replace the Trustee Act 1956 to take into account modern practices and conventions.

In addition, the paper provides a detailed summary of current trust principles, trustees' duties, different forms of trusts, the relationship between the court, legislation and the operation of trusts, and an examination of the interaction of trusts with other policy areas. The Commission notes that one area in need of particular attention and clarification is the supervisory role of the court in administering trusts. The court is often involved in non-contentious administration matters that are unnecessarily costly and time consuming.

The closing date for submissions is 22 February 2013.