The rules which are often known as ‘the three certainties’ are at the heart of express trusts law. Usually they are one of the first sets of rules which are taught to undergraduate students of trusts law. The basic rule is this: before a valid express trust can be created, three prerequisites must be satisfied. Classically, those prerequisites are understood as follows. First, it must be certain that the settlor intended to create a trust, as opposed to intending to establish some other legal or equitable mechanism (such as a charge or a gift). Secondly, the identity of the property which is to be held on trust must be certain; that is, it is commonly said, the trust fund must be segregated from all other property. Thirdly, the identity of the people who are to be the beneficiaries (or, objects) of the trust must be known with sufficient certainty. These doctrines are known respectively as certainty of intention, certainty of subject matter, and certainty of objects. What is remarkable about them, perhaps, is that they immediately establish the law of trusts as being concerned with the sort of strict rule-making which is often identified with idealised common law doctrines, as opposed to the sort of loose principles which are often associated with equity, as was discussed in Chapter 1.
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