Trust and estates: Core distinction
The so-called 'rule in Re Hastings-Bass' has become a workhorse for setting aside mistaken trustee decisions. It was memorably described by Lord Neuberger at last year's Chancery Bar Association conference as a "magical morning-after pill [for] trustees suffering post-transaction remorse" and has very recently been described by Justice Norris in the following terms: "When the court of appeal fashioned for the trustees of the 1947 settlement upon Captain Hastings-Bass a stout shield against an attack upon the validity of their decisions by the Inland Revenue, the members of the court cannot have supposed that they were creating for such trustees a powerful weapon enabling them to attack their own decisions in the face of objections by the Inland Revenue. But that, of course, is what has occurred in the development of what is called 'the rule in Hastings-Bass' (Re Hastings-Bass  Ch 25)".
The rule of Hastings-Bass and the law of mistake have both been used to escape unintended outcomes but have differing legal consequences. Elspeth Talbot Rice QC and Adam Cloherty illustrate their differences and outline how HMRC is becoming more involved in such cases
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