Insurance and trust : lessons from the Christchurch Cathedral

Tarr, Julie-Anne & McGregor-Lowndes, Myles (2014) Insurance and trust : lessons from the Christchurch Cathedral. Australian Business Law Review, 42(1), pp. 29-35.

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Abstract

This article examines important insurance and trust law issues that may confront trustees charged with the governance and protection of unique properties with broad community and heritage significance. Often trustee roles are assumed by community leaders without full appreciation of the potential difficulties and consequences when unforeseen circumstances arise. Three recent New Zealand court decisions in relation to the deconstruction and repair of the Christchurch Cathedral and to the interim construction of a transitional"cardboard Cathedral" highlight how difficult - and legally exposed - the role of trustee can be. The Cathedral cases go to the heart of defining the core purpose for which a Trust is created and examine the scope of discretion in fulfilling this charge its Trustees carry. Arising in the wake of the devastating Christchurch earthquakes, the Cathedral's Trustees were called upon to consider the best directions forward for a criplled and dangerous building subject to potential demolition, the wellbeing of the Cathedral's direct community, and the broader heritage and identity factors that this 'heart' of Christchurch represented. In the context of a seemingly grossly underinsured material damage cover - and faced with broader losses across the Diocese's holdings - the Trustees found that their sense of mission failed to gel with that of a community-based heritage buildings preservation trust. The High Court had to consider how monies received under the material damage policy could be applied by the Trustee in deconstructing, reinstating or repairing the Cathedral and if monies could be partly deployed to create an interim solution in the former of a transitional cathedral - all this in the context of the site-specific purpose of the Cathedral trust. The cases emphasise further the need to assess professionally the nature and quantum of cover effected to protect against various risks. In addition, in the case of historic or unusual buildings extra care must be exercised to take account additional costs associated with reinstatement so as to substantially retain the character and intrinsic value of such properties.

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ID Code: 74003
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Cathedral cases, insurable interest, cover
ISSN: 0310-1053
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BANKING FINANCE AND INVESTMENT (150200) > Insurance Studies (150204)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Thomson Reuters
Deposited On: 31 Jul 2014 00:28
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2014 00:17

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