2017: A brief editorial review

STEP Journal covers 2017As 2017 draws to a close, and with the final STEP Journal (Dec/Jan) having recently landed on your (or your office’s) doormat, this seems the perfect juncture take a quick look back on our member publications and bulletins this year.

Above are the varied, colourful covers of this year’s ten STEP Journal issues, each of which is an undertaking by itself; for example, readers would be surprised – and perhaps a little concerned – by the amount of discussion regarding the width of the pneumatic tubes on November’s ‘knowledge’ edition. President Trump narrowly missed an appearance on the cover of May’s US/Canada focus, but will surely take comfort that his proposed tax reforms were considered in that issue (‘Trump yet to play his cards‘🔒, by Bruce Zagaris TEP). Two covers particularly stood out for us: August/September’s attention-grabbing pop-art graphic, and March’s sensitive, understated design for that issue’s vulnerable client focus.

According to our web statistics, this year’s most popular STEP Journal feature so far (online) is ‘Will survivorship clauses survive?’🔒, in which John FitzGerald warns of the potential pitfalls of using such clauses when will-drafting in the UK. Our most-read Trust Quarterly Review (TQR) article of 2017 is ‘Signs of convergence‘🔒 by John Riches TEP, on the potential expansion of CRS disclosure.

STEP’s global outlook was reflected in the wide range of jurisdictions covered by this year’s articles, which covered developments in Australia, Austria, Bermuda, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, China, Colombia, the UK Crown Dependencies, Dubai, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Mauritius, New Zealand, Panama, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. Members can access all of this year’s issues of the STEP Journal and TQR, and those of previous years, at our back-issue archive.

All that content has been well-received by members, according to the results from this year’s STEP Member Satisfaction Survey: out of the six most valuable member benefits, the STEP Journal – our flagship title – was ranked highest, followed by the News Digests (second), Membership Newsletter Emails (third) and TQR, (fifth). The editorial team is delighted with these results, and will strive to do even better next year.

A huge amount of behind-the-scenes work goes into our editorial output. Following her promotion in December 2016 to Managing Editor of Publications, Blathain Iqbal has diligently managed the production of the STEP Journal and TQR to a consistently excellent standard – from planning and commissioning, to editing and production; a massive undertaking. Helen Swire, who joined in August as Editor, took over our News Digests and has quickly adapted to the subject matter, ably supported by Peter Mitchell, our longstanding news freelancer. We wish the very best to Colette Hagan, who recently departed for a new position; as Communications Executive, she was responsible for the Membership Newsletter Emails this year, and contributed to our other editorial streams. We look forward to welcoming, in January, an Assistant Editor to strengthen the team. Thanks also to Think, our publisher, which handles the production and commercial elements of the STEP Journal and TQR.

Finally, special mention goes to the members of our respective Editorial Boards for the STEP Journal and TQR, who provide invaluable expert feedback on articles before publication. Stan Barg TEP and David Wallace Wilson TEP have just stepped down, and we thank them for their commitment and help over many years.

In 2018, we will continue our efforts to ensure that our editorial content accurately reflects the breadth of jurisdictions and disciplines that STEP represents. The STEP Journal content calendar for 2018 is now available here, and if you have any feedback, suggestions or questions about our editorial output, please do remember to get in touch at editorial@step.org.

We wish our readers and members a very happy festive period.

John Read, Head of Editorial, STEP

Why it pays to keep an eye on developments in foreign jurisdictions

Robin MacKnight

Robin MacKnight

Technology may very well be the bane of a busy practitioner’s existence. It makes us all too accessible. It deprives us of the solitude we all need to think and recharge. It makes available too much information. Then we have to deal with the follow-up surveys and questionnaires! Fortunately, the editors of Trust Quarterly Review (TQR) are pleased to report that the latest survey of STEP members showed overwhelming satisfaction with STEP publications generally, but only 70 per cent of members were satisfied with the TQR. In fact, about 28 per cent of members were ‘indifferent’.

Among the reasons provided in the survey, we discovered a number of apparent contradictions. The sentiment that surprised us most was the demand for more ‘local’ coverage – from every region where STEP operates. This sense of ‘mimby’-ism (more in my backyard) perhaps supports the demand for quality continuing education, or perhaps highlights the differences between our members’ areas of practice.  The editors are sympathetic to both possibilities and will strive to address them in future issues.

One disturbing fact emerged from the survey: there does not appear to be recognition among our members (in common-law jurisdictions at least) of the near universality of the trust concept. Trust law is generally consistent across the common-law jurisdictions, so that developments in England are transportable to other parts of the world, and issues in New Zealand are likely to be repeated, or perhaps have already occurred, elsewhere.  In fact, a decision of the British Columbia (BC) Supreme Court has recently been released in a case in which the trustees argued mistake. The BC court accepted the reasoning of the UK court in Pitt v Holt; Futter v Futter [2013] 2 AC 108, and the Jersey Supreme Court in In the Matter of the S Trust (2011) JRC 117.

We have much to learn from each other, and the Editors of TQR are pleased to help enable this. We are also cognisant of growing issues affecting our clients across economic classes, both locally and internationally. We all have clients with aging parents and dependent or incapacitated family members and we should be relieved that some of our colleagues are prepared to share their experiences so we can all provide a better service to our clients.

We encourage TQR readers to think about whether the decisions discussed could be applied in other jurisdictions. We note how trust law has developed in emerging financial centres, and how new thinking from new jurisdictions can shape thinking locally – wherever that locale may be. We encourage our readers to ‘think global, act local’!  We welcome your thoughts, your experiences and new articles.

Adapted from Robin MacKnight’s editorial in Volume 12, Issue 1 of the Trust Quarterly Review.

Robin MacKnight is a Partners with Wilson Vukelich LLP in Ontario, Canada. He sits on the Editorial Board of STEP’s Trust Quarterly Review.