private trust land

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tom. reynolds3
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:16 am
Location: london

private trust land

Post by tom. reynolds3 » Fri May 16, 2008 11:25 pm

i live in a triangle of roads and behind us is a prvate trust land owned by myself and 43 properties. i and three others have been elected to be trustees. all the beneficiaries have access from their repective properties. my question is are we trustees liable financialy if one of the beneficiaries injured themselves while on the trust land? there are 8 allotments on the land and the rest of it is basically scrub land that we wish to clear and tidy. we are presently being registered at the land registry. i have been told to get insurance but for what? and from who? any help would be appreciated. regards. tom
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Mandy
Posts: 363
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:04 pm

Post by Mandy » Sat May 17, 2008 9:13 am

My understanding is that "the trust" (are you a limited by guarantee company?) could be liable should someone have an accident there. Negligent maintenance (or failure to reasonably maintain) by those running whatever sort of legal structure could be personally liable - and that is often NOT covered by standard policies for pulbic liability insurance (though you can have bespoke ones). Public liability insurance is advisable regardless of this being private land.

I would recommend that you see a solicitor about liability (all the owners should share the cost of this) - I am involved in a wood which has access for the public. It's been open since 1976 and we've just had our first claim about a fall there (though they're not saying exactly where and no-one can find the "pothole" in the path they say they fell in).

This is a link to a guide re woods insurance but the principles will be the same I'm sure:
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/WI-6Liab ... urance.pdf

tom. reynolds3
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:16 am
Location: london

Post by tom. reynolds3 » Sun May 18, 2008 8:48 am

thank you mandy. i will find out about the 'guarantee company'. the trust land was purchased in the 1930's and then sold to any houses that surrounded it and wished to participate. this was eventually 45 properties.the ownership is passed on when a house is sold although i think it possible to sell without doing this. the trust deeds say it is a recreational area for the participating holders and their families and friends. do you know what position we could find ourselves in if some beneficiaries agreed to share the insurance and others didn't? can we force the people to share the costs? when you refer to 'the trust' being liable do you mean it would be the trustees? the four of us just want to make the area pleasant to walk in an make rules regarding no ' motorbikes' or dumping of rubbish etc. i am nervous of being held financially responsible. tom xx
ps: i will read the link. thank you again
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Mandy
Posts: 363
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:04 pm

Post by Mandy » Sun May 18, 2008 4:14 pm

Not sure what you can do legally if someone doesn't want to pay up - that's outside my experience, sorry.

As a trustee you are potentially making yourself personally liable and therefore need to take care. You can decide to have trustee and directors' insurance - but be careful to read the small print before purchase. These policies protect trustees and directors who are potentially liable if they do something or fail to do something which would be expected of them. Some however exclude paying out if you are negligent thus making the whole policy worthless.

You can hold land in a company limited by guarantee. This is like a normal company but instead having shareholders you have a number of guarantors who guarantee a small amount (usually £1) in case the company goes bankrupt - this means if there is a claim, the company is sued, not you and the personal losses are small. This is of course unless you are deemed to be negligent as a director - in which case your public liability insurance would not pay out and people might look to try and sue you and the other directors/trustees. Hence the need to have trustee/director insurance. The Companies House website will explain the legal structure.

It may be worthwhile looking at a community interest company structure to see if that could be applied - there is guidance on that on the Charities Commission website. Certainly see a solicitor with the other trustees once you've done some basic internet research. Meanwhile the insurers you choose should be happy to guide you into what procedures you should be following (such as a monthly inspection and written log of the checks made for dangerous issues etc.) to reduce risks and cover yourself legally. Rospa has a website as well that is well worth checking out.

I perfectly understand what you mean by the not wanting to be personally financially responsible - but if you take care and try to see all the possible worse case scenarios and what you can do to prevent those happening it is highly unlikely that you ever would be - and if no-one takes these things on then nothing would get done.

tom. reynolds3
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:16 am
Location: london

Post by tom. reynolds3 » Sun May 18, 2008 5:40 pm

mandy, thank you very, very much. i will print out your advice and give it to the others to read. i will get back to you at a later date. tom. thanks again
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