Justice Dobson has recently reversed his interim ruling that section 17A Judicature Act 1908 gives the Court jurisdiction to appoint a liquidator to a trust if satisfied there are reasons for doing so. He found that a trust is not an "association" to which section 17A applies, and instead appointed receivers with selected powers given to liquidators under the Companies Act 1993.
Dobson J found that "it would be forced and somewhat artificial to describe trustees of a trust as an association merely because in literal terms they constitution an unincorporated body of persons." This was supported by the fact that section 17A would arbitrarily exclude trusts with a sole trustee or a corporate trustee as they could not be an "association" within the section.
While Dobson J acknowledged that there was an issue of increasing trust use "by unscrupulous debtors to separate assets from those liable for debts incurred," he found that section 17A was not the way to address this issue. He therefore followed the approach taken in respect of Five Star Consumer Finance Limited, in which receivers were appointed over all trust property, and given the powers conferred on liquidators under sections 261 to 267 and sections 273 to 274 of the Companies Act 1993. These powers include access to documents and the ability to apply to the Court to order a person to provide documents required by the receiver. The receivers also have powers to identify, trace and follow assets of the trusts and to realise the trusts' assets.
See court decision here.