The Public Trustee of England By W. L. Goldsborough
"Be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:— "1. There shall be established the office of public trustee. The public trustee shall be a corporation sole under that name, with perpetual succession and an official seal, and may sue and be sued under the above name like any other corporation sole. . . . "7. The Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom shall be liable to make good all sums required to discharge any liability which the public trustee, if he were a private trustee, would be personally liable to discharge, except where the liability is one to which neither the public trustee nor any of his officers has in any way contributed, and which neither he nor any of his officers could by the exercise of reasonable diligence have averted, and in that case the public trustee shall not, nor shall the Consolidated Fund, be subject to any liability .... "16. This act shall come into operation on the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and eight."
1 FIRST became interested in the Eng lish public trustee and his work two years ago when a copy of the act from which the above extracts are taken (6 Edw. 7, ch. 55), and of a paper read by the Public Trustee before the Royal So ciety of Arts, fell into my hands. As one of a committee just entering upon the work of codifying the laws of the Philip pines, it seemed to me that an official on the English plan to take the place of frequently neglectful, incompetent and even dishonest executors, administrators and trustees, might be of great service in the Islands, and, for the matter of that, in the United States also. This impression was confirmed when, finding myself in London a few months ago on my way from Washington to Manila, I presented a letter of introduction from our embassy to Mr. Charles John Stewart, the Public Trustee, and Mr. Ernest King Allen, principal clerk, and spent parts of several days going through their office, studying its organization and administration, and receiving all
the assistance by way of explanation and information, oral and written, which the utmost courtesy and good will could supply. I also received a refreshing inpression of absence of red tape, and of a thorough recording system combined with business dispatch. The English Public Trustee Act was the outcome of a demand for greater efficiency, security and economy in the administration of estates. It had been found increasingly difficult to induce private persons to undertake the trouble some and arduous duties of executors and administrators. Many lacked the know ledge necessary to the efficient discharge of such duties; while those who had the knowledge were frequently unwilling to incur the responsibility. And when these preliminary difficulties had been overcome and a competent person had been induced to accept the burden, it was not an uncommon thing to have death, necessary absence, or other insup erable cause deprive the estate of his services just when they were most needed.