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CONSTRUCTIVE TRUSTS ON VALIDITY OF TITLE DOCUMENTS

Dictum

Trust is defined at page 1513 of the Blacks Law Dictionary, 7th Edition as the right enforceable solely in equity to the beneficial enjoyment of property to which another person holds the legal title. Where a party claims certain property that is held in constructive trust for his own benefit, he has a duty to prove that the title document in possession of the trustee is valid and in proper custody. The moment he successfully contradicts and renders the title document in the name of the trustee invalid, his claim automatically fails, since the success of his claim depends largely on the validity of the documents of title in the name of the trustee.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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STRANGER LIABLE AS CONSTRUCTIVE TRUSTEE

If a stranger to a trust (a) receives and becomes chargeable with some part of the trust fund or (b) assists the trustees of a trust with knowledge of the facts in a dishonest design on the part of the trustees to misapply some part of a trust fund, he is liable as a constructive trustee (Barnes v Addy ((1874) LR 9 Ch App 244 at 251–252) per Lord Selborne LC).

— Buckley LJ. Belmont v Williams [1980] 1 ALL ER 393

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CERTAINTIES IN A TRUST

I do agree the test for express trust is the existence of the three certainties set out by Chief Fagbohungbe, that is when a trust is created intentionally by the act of the settlor. There is also implied trust. This is where the legal title to property is in one person and the equitable right based on the beneficial enjoyment of the same property in another, a court of equity will from those circumstances infer an implied trust. Therefore an implied trust is a trust founded upon the unexpected, but presumed intention of the settlor. Under certainty of intention the words used must be examined to see whether the intention was to impose a trust upon the donee. The intention must also be genuine and not a stain as to where the settler did not intend the trust to be acted upon but entered into it for same ulterior motive such as deceiving creditors. Under certainty of objects, the trust must be for ascertainable beneficiaries.

– Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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WHAT CONSTITUTES A RESULTING TRUST – CANNOT RELY ON RESULTING TRUST IF NOT PLEADED

For the definition of what constitutes resulting trust see the case of Shephard vs. Cartwright (1995) AC 431 at 445. See also Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th edition at page 1315. As clearly illustrated in the leading judgment of my learned brother, Tobi, JSC, there are no hard and fast rules about what amounts to resulting trust especially as it relates to land. Where it arises, the claimant of the piece of land must prove by hard and concrete evidence that he actually owned and/or was entitled to the land but voluntarily or involuntarily opted that the Title Deed or Deed of Assignment be made in favour of another in anticipation of a marriage of whatever the case may be. Where a party as in the instant case, fails to properly plead the issue of resulting trust (or any other trust) he cannot raise the issue at the address stage or on appeal as the evidence or arguments or submissions on facts not hitherto pleaded, go to no issue.

— Onu, JSC. Ezennah v Atta (2004) – SC.226/2000

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STATE LANDS ARE FOR PUBLIC PURPOSES – SUCH LANDS ARE HELD IN TRUST

Their powers under the law are limited to leasing them to diverse persons, and accepting forfeitures and surrenders of leases. There appears to be substance in this contention. State lands in Nigeria invariably originate from compulsory acquisitions of such lands from individuals or communities for public purposes. Such lands are held in trust by the acquiring government for use for the public purpose for which the land was acquired and in accordance with the public policy of the state as enshrined in the laws of the state.

– Nnaemeka-agu, JSC. Ude v. Nwara (1993)

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WHEN TRUST RELATIONSHIP ARISES

In its legal sense, “a trust” is the relationship, which arises wherever a person called the trustee is compelled in equity to hold property, whether real or personal, and whether by legal or equitable title, for the benefit of some persons (of whom he may be one and who are termed cestuis que trust) or for some object permitted by law, in such a way that the real benefit of the property accrues, not to the trustee but, to the beneficiaries or other object of the trust – Professor Keeton in Law of Trust, 9th Ed.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Huebner v Aeronautical Ind. Eng. (2017) – SC.198/2006

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RESULTING TRUST IS TRUST IMPLICIT IN THE CONDUCT OF PARTIES

Resulting Trust is a trust that can be readily deduced as being implicit in the conduct of parties but without express intent. Black’s Law Dictionary relies on the definition of a resulting trust as made out in the case of Lifemark Corp. vs. Newit Jx. App. 14 Dist, 655 SW. 2d 310, 316 as a’ “trust that arises where a person makes or causes to be made a disposition of property under circumstances which raise an inference that he does not intend that person taking or holding that property should have the beneficial interest therein, unless inference is rebutted or the beneficial interest is otherwise effectively disposed of’.

— Pats-Acholonu, JSC. Ezennah v Atta (2004) – SC.226/2000

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