An introduction to trusts

  • Publication date: 01 July 2021
  • Author: Ramandeep Kaur Chhina


Dealing with trusts and trust-like arrangements is an issue that frequently challenges implementers of reforms for the beneficial ownership transparency (BOT) of legal entities. In the majority of jurisdictions, trusts are legal arrangements rather than legal entities. As trusts can own assets, including legal entities, and legal entities can be party to a trust, the question of trusts is critical to the BOT of legal entities. Trusts emerged in common law. In many civil law countries and jurisdictions which do not recognise or allow the creation of trusts under their domestic law, there is usually limited understanding and knowledge about how trusts work.

This briefing aims to provide a background to the Open Ownership (OO) paper Beneficial ownership transparency of trusts[1] for those who are new to the concept. It provides background information to the concept of trusts, and serves as a resource reference to develop an understanding of various types of trusts, their functions, and the roles of various parties of a trust. It highlights some of the legitimate and illegitimate uses of trusts, as well as the current practice in a variety of countries on the regulatory treatment of trusts.


[1] Ramandeep Kaur Chhina, “Beneficial ownership transparency of trusts”, OO, July 2021,

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