Re London Wine Co [1986] PCC 121

Key point

  • Segregation of chattels from a bulk is required for the subject matter of a trust to be certain


  • A wine dealer (D) sold wine to customers (Cs)
  • After the contracts of sale were executed, the wine was kept in D’s warehouses
  • D gave Cs certificates of title to the wine and Cs were charged for storage and insurance, but specific cases were not segregated or identified for each customer
  • D later went into liquidation
  • Cs sought to establish that wines were held on trust and thus unavailable to creditors

Held (High Court)

  • Cs’ claim failed; no trust was created as there was uncertain subject matter

Oliver J

  • “It seems to me that in order to create a trust it must be possible to ascertain with certainty not only what the interest of the beneficiary is to be but also to what property it is to attach”
  • “I cannot see how for instance a farmer who declares himself a trustee of 2 sheep without identifying them can be said to have created a perfect trust”