High Court Decision Explores Arbitration Agreements in Trust Disputes

Citation: [2024] EWHC 291 (Ch)
Judgment on


The High Court of Justice’s decision in Chaim Saul Grosskopf v Yechiel Grosskopf & Anor ([2024] EWHC 291 (Ch)) provides insight into the application of arbitration agreements within trust disputes and the scope of an arbitrator’s powers in comparison to those of the court. This analysis dissects the judgment, in which Master Clark deliberates over whether the disputes between beneficiaries and trustees concerning the administration of a trust are arbitrable and if they fall within an existing arbitration agreement.

Key Facts

Chaim Grosskopf (Claimant) raised allegations of misconduct against Yechiel Grosskopf and Jacob Grosskopf (Defendants), who are trustees of a family trust, seeking the appointment of a judicial trustee to replace the Defendants. The Defendants sought a stay of the claim pursuant to section 9 of the Arbitration Act 1996 on the basis of an earlier arbitration agreement or, alternatively, to strike out the claim as an abuse of process.

The central issues considered were the scope of the arbitration agreement, whether the arbitration tribunal could effectively administer the remedies sought, and whether the application for a judicial trustee could only be exclusively heard by the court.

The judgment referenced several legal principles:

Arbitrability and Arbitration Agreement Scope

The judgment reinforces the pro-arbitration stance of English law as outlined by the Supreme Court in Republic of Mozambique v Privinvest Shipbuilding SAL ([2023] UKSC 32), which emphasized a liberal interpretation of arbitration agreements. Master Clark applied this principle in determining whether the substance of the dispute was covered by the arbitration agreement. A two-stage process was adopted: ascertaining the ‘matters’ brought by legal proceedings and whether they fell under the arbitration agreement’s scope.

Issue Estoppel in Arbitration

The concept that parties are bound by determinations made in earlier arbitration proceedings - known as issue estoppel - was applied. It was held that the Claimant could not relitigate disputes that had been subject or had previously been decided within the arbitration process (citing Emirates Trading Agency LLC v Sociedade de Fomento Industrial Private Ltd [2015] EWHC 1452 (Comm)).

Appointment of Judicial Trustees vs. Arbitrator’s Powers

A judicial trustee can only be appointed by the court (Judicial Trustees Act 1896). However, it was considered whether a tribunal could direct the defendants to resign as trustees, essentially yielding a comparable outcome within the arbitration framework. This principle acknowledged the flexibility within arbitration to reach similar ends through alternative means.

Arbitrator’s Inability to Grant a Specific Remedy

The principle from Société Commerciale de Reassurance v Eras (International) ([1992] 1 Ll Rep 570) held that the non-availability of a specific court remedy in arbitration did not invalidate the arbitration agreement or prevent a stay of proceedings, provided the essence of the disputes is arbitrable.

Supervisory Jurisdiction of the Court Over Trusts

The court’s supervisory jurisdiction over trusts was highlighted. However, Master Clark indicated that private trusts generally operate outside court, and the court’s involvement is invoked rather than automatic.


The court found that the disputes raised in the Claimant’s claim fell within the scope of the arbitration agreement, as determined by a previous judgment by Master Price and the arbitration Tribunal’s interim awards. The Claimant’s request for a judicial trustee was deemed to be ultimately arbitrable since it pertained to the administration of the Trust and the conduct of the trustees, matters suitable for resolution by arbitration. Consequently, the court granted a stay of the proceedings under section 9 of the Arbitration Act 1996.


The judgment in Chaim Saul Grosskopf v Yechiel Grosskopf & Anor elucidates the boundaries of arbitration in the context of trust disputes. It affirms that the arbitrability of a matter is not precluded by the fact that specific remedies sought are not within the power of an arbitral tribunal. The case also reaffirms the principle that parties to an arbitration agreement are usually required to resolve their disputes within the agreed arbitration framework, and the courts are expected to respect and enforce this preference, reflecting the pro-arbitration policy underpinning English law.