As long as the trust instrument does not allow for methods which have the effect of contravening the common law, such as the abdication of powers and duties to anyone else, the trust instrument can determine which methods of participation is allowed, or specifically disallowed, such as the use of proxies, electronic or telephonic meetings.
A proxy allows a person, who is duly authorised, to represent a trustee at a meeting, if it is specifically allowed in the trust instrument. Such a proxy can merely act as the messenger of the trustee who he/she represents, and convey the thoughts and/or votes of the trustee who granted the proxy.
A stipulation in the trust instrument allowing a proxy to vote as he/she “may deem fit”, results in an abdication of a trustee’s powers, which is not allowed. If a trustee is allowed to exercise his/her independent judgement and form a personal view at a trustees meeting, he/she would be allowed to act similar to an appointed trustee of the trust, without being duly appointed as trustee, as required in terms of Section 6 of the Trust Property Control Act (Hoosen v Deedat case of 1999).
Even if another trustee of the trust acts as proxy for a co-trustee, allowing such a person to act and decide as he/she wishes is not allowed, as it would result in an abdication of power to the proxy.