Guernsey: Private Trust Companies

Last Updated: 1 November 2012
Article by Edward Stone

Trusting trustees

When a client is establishing trusts as part of his wealth and succession planning, one of the more difficult decisions can often be whom to appoint as trustee. Once the assets have been transferred into the trusts, they will cease to belong to the client and will be held by the trustee upon the terms of the trusts. Those terms will often confer wide discretions on the trustee as to the investment and distribution of the trust assets and the client may be reticent about such discretions being exercised by an independent professional trustee with whom he has not had any previous dealings.

The appointment of a protector with the power to remove and appoint trustees may be sufficient to reassure the client that his intentions will be respected. Alternatively, a client seeking an active continuing role may wish to reserve certain powers, such as the power to manage the investment of the trust fund. For some clients, particularly when the main asset being transferred to the trust is a family business and retaining an element of control is very important, establishing a private trust company may be the answer.

The greatest advantage of a private trust company structure is that every element can be tailor-made to best fit the client: how the ownership is structured, how trustee decisions are made as well as the scope of the trustee's power in the underlying trust(s). Where the client already has a family office, the private trust company can be designed to dovetail with it and so help streamline the administration of the client's affairs. There is also inherent flexibility to adapt to future changes in the family and the family's wealth.


Where tax and other considerations allow, the client or family members can own the shares of the private trust company directly. Where that is inappropriate, the shares can be held by a foundation or by a non-charitable purpose trust.

Foundations can already be established in Jersey and will very shortly also be available in Guernsey. Under Guernsey law, (and Jersey law - when the latest amendments to Jersey's trust legislation come into force), it is expressly provided that it is a valid purpose of a non-charitable purpose trust to hold assets or carry out functions so there is no scope for doubt that holding the shares of a private trust company and carrying out the functions of a shareholder are valid purposes.


The on-going role of the client in decision making will depend on his circumstances. Where the client cannot himself be on the board and so actively involved in decisions, he can ensure that the board comprises of trusted family advisers who will be familiar with and sensitive to the client's circumstances. Where an independent professional trustee is appointed, internal appointees dictated by internal policy rather than the client will determine who takes decisions.

Where dynastic planning is the goal, for the family wealth to successfully pass down through the generations, the client will have to give up control at some stage. The private trust company structure allows for control to be handed over gradually with following generations brought in as and when most appropriate and for the transition to be carefully managed.


The use of a private trust company can also be cost efficient, especially for high value trusts. Independent professional trustees, mindful always of their potential liabilities, will typically charge a responsibility fee in addition to their administration costs. It is usually advisable for a private trust company to involve a local licensed trust company in an administrative role which provides a registered office and secretarial services, as well as local directors if required. Such services are contractual and so, if necessary, the service provider can be changed more easily than it would be to change the service provider if it were acting as trustee.


Private trust companies offer discretion to clients anxious to protect their anonymity and the confidentiality of their wealth. Where the board of the private trust company is made up of trusted family advisors, the circulation of information is much more restricted and secure.


Although the provision of trust services is usually a regulated activity, a private trust company will normally be exempt and not itself subject to regulation.

In Guernsey a private trust company will only need to be licensed by the GFSC if it is receiving income or a fee. Although most private trust companies do not charge fees, it may nevertheless recover some its running costs (eg directors' fees and fees for providing a registered office) from the underlying trusts and thus an exemption should be sought under the Regulation of Fiduciaries Administration Businesses and Company Directors, etc (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2000. The fees for an application for exemption are currently £860.

In Jersey, the private trust company will need to satisfy the requirements of the Financial Services (Trust Company Business (Exemptions)) (Jersey) Order 2000 which provides that (a) it must act as trustee solely of a specific trust or trusts; (b) it must not solicit trust company business from the public; and (c) it must itself be administered within Jersey by a registered trust company service provider.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Practice Guides
by Mondaq Advice Centres
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions