CUHK LAW Property Law Seminar Series –‘The Knights Templar and the Origins of the Common Law of Trusts’ by Prof. Steven Gallagher (Online)


1 Mar 2023


5:00pm – 6:00pm


Online via ZOOM


Prof. Steven Gallagher, Professional Consultant, Professor of Practice in Law, CUHK LAW

Biography of Speaker:

Steven Gallagher is a Professional Consultant, Professor in Practice of Law (by courtesy), and Associate Dean (Academic & Student Affairs). Steven has taught various aspects of property law in England and Hong Kong. In 2013, Steven introduced the Principles of Art, Antiquities, Cultural Heritage and the Law course to the LLM programme at CUHK LAW. Steven presents a range of continuing professional development courses for solicitors in Hong Kong on topics in property law, art law, and law and technology. Steven’s research interests include issues in property law, legal history, the development of policy and law intended to promote and protect art, antiquities and cultural heritage, law and technology, Chinese custom and law, and innovative ways to teach law. The latter includes using superhero films for problem based learning, flipped classrooms and digital learning initiatives promoting asynchronous and distance learning. Steven has been widely quoted in newspapers and television reports regarding legal issues involving property law, art and cultural heritage.

Event Details:

The common law trust is an extremely flexible and useful legal institution, embraced by the commercial world internationally, its value evidenced by pale imitation in civil jurisdictions. However, the origin and development of the trust and its forerunner the medieval use are shrouded in mystery. Theories that have been put forward on the origins of the common law of trusts rely on identifying similarities with arrangements in older and contemporary legal systems. These include theories that the use developed from the Roman law concepts of Fideicommissum or Pia Causa, the Salmannus of the Salian Franks, the Shariah Waqf, or as a way to avoid the embarrassment of riches for Franciscan monks pledged to poverty.

This seminar will briefly consider these theories and propose a theory relying on contemporary documentation. This theory is that one of the most powerful international organisations of the medieval period, the Knights Templar, developed a trust-like arrangement for the same purposes that trusts are used for today- to benefit good purposes, provide for families, disguise property transactions, and avoid taxes.

Property Law Seminar Series – ‘The Knights Templar and the Origins of the Common Law of Trusts’ by Prof. Steven Gallagher (Online)


Language: English