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Bedell Cristin achieves more Crociani success in the Court of Appeal

16 August 2018

The Jersey Court of Appeal decision in the long-running Crociani litigation has now been published. Bedell Cristin act for the successful plaintiffs, Cristiana Crociani and her children, whose claims for breach of trust were all upheld.

The Grand Trust was settled in 1987 by the family matriarch Madame Crociani, and comprised two sub-trusts, one for each of her daughters, Cristiana and Camilla. At trial, the plaintiffs successfully sued the former trustees of the Grand Trust (which included Madame Crociani herself and BNP Paribas Jersey Trust Corporation) in respect of a $132m distribution made in 2010 for the benefit of Madame Crociani, who was not a beneficiary, leaving behind only a Promissory Note. The Jersey Royal Court ordered that the defaulting trustees reconstitute the Grand Trust in full.

However, although there was no direct evidence that any of the assets had been passed on to Camilla, the Court of Appeal was persuaded that she had or would receive the preponderance of those assets. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal accepted that it would be unfair for BNP to have to reconstitute Camilla's Trust (with certain exceptions) which could be treated as having been paid out.  BNP's liability to reconstitute Cristiana's Trust in full remains unaffected.

More controversially, the Court of Appeal confirmed in a supplemental judgment that its finding that Camilla's Trust be treated as paid out was not merely for the purposes of quantifying the equitable compensation payable, but a factual finding that it has actually been paid out. This has a number of surprising consequences. Not only is the liability of BNP reduced, but so is that of Madame Crociani - even though she was the one pressing for the 2010 appointment to be signed, received all the assets appointed out, has refused to comply with the Court's order to disclose where and how they are now held, did not attend trial, was not exonerated, and did not appeal. And so too is the liability of Appleby Trust (Mauritius) Limited- even though its liability relates only to the Promissory Note, which was not part of the 2010 appointment, but was transferred away by Appleby in 2016.

Other grounds of appeal by BNP, Appleby and Camilla were rejected. Of particular interest, it is the first time that the Jersey Court of Appeal has analysed the statutory provisions introduced in Jersey in 2013 in relation to mistake and Hastings-Bass.

It is likely the disappointed parties will be seeking leave to appeal to the Privy Council. 

Please click here to read the judgment.

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