Document Type

Book Chapter

Book Authors/Editors

Robert W. Hillman and Mark J. Loewenstein, eds.


Edward Elgar Publishing

Publication Date



The business trust arguably is the most prominent and yet enigmatic organizational form used today. The problem is that no one knows exactly how prevalent business trusts are, much less why they are the preferred vehicle for a broad and diverse range of transactions. This chapter sheds some light on the business trust by examining its early history at common law, its subsequent mutation into modern statutory and contractarian forms, as well as some of its most common functions. The more closely we scrutinize the business trust, the more apparent it becomes that the pertinent question about business trusts is not why they exist, but rather why they are not used to an even greater extent than what we suspect.