Re Hallett's Estate
|Re Hallett’s Estate|
|Court||Court of Appeal|
|Citation(s)||(1880) 13 Ch D 696|
Mr Hallett, a solicitor, held bonds for Mrs Cotterill worth £2145 until he wrongfully sold them and put the proceeds in his current bank account, with Winning’s Bank, mixed with his own money. When he died the account had £3000.
Fry J was concerned with whether Mr Hallett had a fiduciary relation, given he held as a bailee, and not a trust, strictly speaking. He held the first in first out rule applied, following Pennell v Deffell (1853) 4 De GM&G 372, so that a large proportion of Mrs Cotterrill’s money was in fact already paid out.
Court of Appeal
Lord Jessel MR held that there was a fiduciary relationship, and the proceeds of the sale of the bonds could be traced. It then went back to determine how much could be traced. A trustee cannot say trust money is merely lost. He reversed Fry J and held that the claimants were entitled to an equitable charge of £2,145 over the fund. There was a presumption that a fiduciary is acting honestly and therefore intends not to dissipate the beneficiary’s money rather than his own.
|“||Now, first upon principle, nothing can be better settled, either in our own law, or, I suppose, the law of all civilised countries, than this, that where a man does an act which may be rightfully performed, he cannot say that the act was intentionally and in fact done wrongly…
… he cannot be heard to say that he took away the trust money when he had a right to take away his own money. The simplest case put is the mingling of trust moneys in a bag with money of the trustee’s own. Suppose he has a hundred sovereigns in a bag, and he adds to them another hundred sovereigns of his own… and the next day he draws out for his own purposes £100, is it tolerable for anybody to allege that what he drew out was the first £100, the trust money, and that he misappropriated it, and left his own £100 in the bag?
Baggallay LJ concurred.
Thesiger LJ dissented, arguing they were bound by Pennell v Deffell.
The Court also held that in the case of a mixture of trust funds with the trustee's own money, only an equitable lien would be available as a remedy. This has since been overruled by Foskett v McKeown  1 AC 102, where the House of Lords held that the beneficiary has the option of choosing an equitable lien or a constructive trust in the case of a mixed fund. A constructive trust would allow a claim in the new asset in proportion to the contribution of the beneficiary's trust fund.
-  1 AC 102 at page 131 per Lord Millett