CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST

constructive trust. An equitable remedy that a court imposes against one who has obtained property by wrongdoing. • A constructive trust, imposed to prevent unjust enrichment, creates no fiduciary relationship. Despite its name, it is not a trust at all. Cf. resulting trust. — Also termed implied trust; involuntary trust; trust de son tort; trust ex delicto; trust ex maleficio; remedial trust; trust in invitum. See trustee de son tort under TRUSTEE. Cf. resulting trust. [Cases: Trusts
91–111. C.J.S. Trover and Conversion §§ 10, 12, 174–201.]

“A constructive trust is the formula through which the conscience of equity finds expression. When property has been acquired in such circumstances that the holder of the legal title may not in good conscience retain the beneficial interest, equity converts him into a trustee.” Beatty v.Guggenheim Exploration Co., 122 N.E. 378, 380 (N.Y. 1919)(Cardozo, J.).Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004) , Page 4702

“It is sometimes said that when there are sufficient grounds for imposing a constructive trust, the court ‘constructs a trust.’ The expression is, of course, absurd. The word ‘constructive’ is derived from the verb ‘construe,’ not from the verb ‘construct.’ … The court construes the circumstances in the sense that it explains or interprets them; it does not construct them.” 5 Austin W. Scott & William F. Fratcher, The Law of Trusts § 462.4 (4th ed. 1987).


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