ESSENTIALS OF CHARITABLE PURPOSES

Meaning of ‘charity’. For the purposes of the law of England and Wales, ‘charity’ means an institution which is established for charitable purposes only and is subject to the control of the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction with respect to charities (Charities Act 2006 ss. 1(1), 78(2)(a). This definition does not apply for those purposes by virtue of that or any other enactment, or, in the Charities Act 2006, where the context otherwise requires: ss.1(2), 78(7). Certain exclusions of ecclesiastical property contained in the Charities Act 1993 s.96(2). Such exclusion does not have effect in relation to reference to the Charities Act 2006 s 1 or any references to the law relating to charities in England and Wales, save where the context requires otherwise; s.78(3), (7). ‘Enactment’, except where the context otherwise requires, includes any provision of subordinate legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978, a provision of a Measure of the Church Assembly or of the General Synod of the Church of England and, in the context of s 6(5) or 75(5) any provision made by or under an Act of the Scottish Parliament or Northern Ireland legislation: s.78(4), 78(7). The requirement that an institution be subject to the control of the High Court in the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction with respect to charities is satisfied if the institution is subject to that jurisdiction in any significant respect: see Construction Industry Training Board v A-G [1971] 3 All ER 449, [1971] 1 WLR 130e; affd [1973] Ch 173, [1972] 2 All ER 1339, CA.] and see Construction Industry Training Board v A-G. See also the Report of the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales for 1990 (HC paper (1990-91) p. 362) App A (a). It does not have to be subject to that jurisdiction which the court exercises only over charities and not over other trusts or other corporate bodies, and it is sufficient if the court is competent to restrain the institution from applying its property ultra vires or in breach of trust: Construction Industry Training Board v A-G [1973] Ch 173, [1972] 2 All ER 1339, CA. For territorial limits on the operation of the Charities Act 2006 see s.80(2)-(9). For territorial limits on the on the operation of the Charities Act 1993 see s.100(2)-(6) (amended by the Charities Act 2006 ss.23(5), 75(1), Sch 8 para. 176). With limited exceptions neither Act extends to Scotland or Northern Ireland.) An ‘Institution’ means an institution whether incorporated or not, and includes a trust or undertaking (Charities Act 2006 s 78(5); Charities Act 1993 s.97(1) (definition amended by the Charities Act 2006 Sch 8 para. 174). This definition does not apply in the Charities Act 2006 where the context otherwise requires: s.78(7)).

The Charities Act 1960 established a register of charities (see the Charities Act 1960 s 4(1) (repealed)), which is continued by the Charities Act 1993 (see the Charities Act 1993 s 3(1)), and it is the duty of the charity trustees (‘Charity trustees’ means the persons having the general control and management of the administration of a charity: Charities Act 1993 s 97(1)) of any charity which is required to be registered (as to charities which are not required to be registered see the Charities Act 1993 s.3A(2)) to apply for registration (see the Charities Act 1993 s.3B(1)). The effect of registration is that an institution is for all purposes other than rectification of the register conclusively presumed to be or to have been a charity at any time when it is or was on the register of charities. (Charities Act 1993 s.4(1). See also Wynn v Skegness UDC [1996] 3 All E.R. 336, [1967] 1 WLR 52; Re Murawski’s Will Trusts, Lloyds Bank Ltd v. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [1971] 2 All ER 328, [1971] 1 WLR 707). The legislation does not provide, however, that an institution which, if it were a charity, would be required to be registered, but which is not registered, is for that reason not a charity (See Over Seventies Housing Association v Westminster City Council [1974] RA 247))

Charitable purposes. Charitable uses or trusts form a distinct head of equity (Income Tax Special Purposes Cmrs v Pemsel [1891] AC 531 at 580, HL, per Lord Macnaghten; cited in Royal College of Surgeons of England v National Provincial Bank Ltd [1952] AC 631 at 640, [1952] 1 All ER 984 at 992, HL.) and it is the court’s duty to determine whether particular purposes are charitable (National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31 at 63, [1947] 2 All ER 217 at 232, HL, per Lord Simonds.). The popular use of the expressions ‘charity’, ‘charitable’, ‘charitable objects’ and ‘charitable purposes’ does not coincide with their technical legal meaning according to the law of England (Income Tax Special Purposes Comrs v Pemsel [1981] AC 531 at 580, 583, HL, per Lord Macnaghten. As to the popular meaning see Income Tax Special Purposes Comrs v Pemsel at 552 per Lord Halsbury LC, at 564 per Lord Bramwell, and at 572 per Lord Herschell; and Baird’s Trustees v Lord Advocate [1888] 15 R 682, Ct of Sess; Verge v Somerville [1924] AC 496 at 502, PC.). The word ‘charitable’, when used in its legal sense, covers many objects which a layman might not consider to be included under that word, but it excludes some benevolent or philanthropic activities which a layman might consider charitable (Re Shaw, Public Trustee v Day [1957] 1 All ER 745, [1957] 1 WLR 729 at 736, per Harman J.).) Not every object which is beneficial to the community is charitable (National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31 at 41, [1947] 2 All ER 217 at 220, HL, per Lord Wright.)

For the purposes of the law of England and Wales, ‘charitable purposes’ means purposes which are for the public benefit (Charities Act 2006 ss.2(1)(b), 78(2)(b). This definition does not apply in the Charities Act 2006 where the context otherwise requires: s.78(7).) and fall within any of the following descriptions of purposes (Charities Act 2006 ss.2(1)(a), 78(2)(b). This definition does not apply in the Charities Act 2006 where the context otherwise requires: s.78(7). Any reference in any enactment or document (in whatever terms) to charitable purposes, or institutions having purposes that are charitable under charity law is to be construed in accordance with s.2(1): s.2(6) applies whether the enactment or document was passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, but does not apply where the context otherwise requires: s.2(7).):

  • the prevention or relief of poverty (Charities Act 2006 s 2(2)(a));
  • the advancement of education (Charities Act 2006 s 2(2)(b), ‘Religion’ includes a religion which involves belief in more than one god; and (2) a religion which does not involve belief in a god: s 2(3)(a));
  • the advancement of religion (Charities Act 2006 s 2(2)(c));
  • the advancement of health or the saving of lives;
  • the advancement of citizenship or community development;
  • the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;
  • the advancement of amateur sport;
  • the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity;
  • the advancement of environmental protection or improvement;
  • the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
  • the advancement of animal welfare;
  • the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown, or of the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue services or ambulance services;
  • any other purposes recognised as charitable under existing charity law, including facilities for recreation or other leisure-time occupation, if the facilities are provided in the interests of social welfare;
  • any purposes that may reasonably be regarded as analogous to, or within the spirit of, a purpose falling within heads (1)-(13) above;
  • any purposes that may reasonably be regarded as analogous to, or within the spirit of, a purpose which has been recognised under head (14) above.

Where any of the terms used in heads (1)-(13) above has a particular meaning under charity law, the term is to be taken as having the same meaning where it appears above. Accordingly, the cases previously decided on the subject remain relevant except in so far as they are contradicted by any provision in the Charities Act 2006.

All charitable purposes must fall within one or more of these categories of purposes, though not every institution or trust whose purpose might be brought within one of them is necessarily a charity, for it must, further, be publicly beneficial and of a public nature. Many charitable purposes do not fit neatly within a single category. Where a trust is described merely as being for charitable purposes, and a class of objects to be benefited is defined, the purposes of the trust cannot be taken to be confined to that particular charitable purpose which would render a trust for that class valid as a charity, but rather the purposes must be construed as being all the categories of charitable objects, and the trust must be interpreted in the light of the application of all categories to the class of objects to be benefited.

Where a purpose is clearly charitable the court will not generally inquire into the efficacy of the activities carried on in pursuance of that purpose, but such activities may be relevant in so far as they demonstrate whether there is any charitable tendency in a given purpose.

An activity which is charitable in the legal sense is not any the less charitable because it is being carried on without any regular organisation by a person who may discontinue it at any time. Such an activity would come within the statutory definition of charity as a trust or undertaking.

Public benefit essential. The Charities Act 2006 provides that a purpose is not charitable unless it is for the ‘public benefit’ and the element of public benefit is thus a necessary condition of legal charity (See the Charities Act 2006 s.2(1)(b)). This principle was previously established at common law (See Oppenheim v Tobacco Securities Trust Co Ltd [1951] AC 297 at 305, [1951] 1 All ER 31 at 33, HL, per Lord Simonds; Jones v Williams (1767) Amb 651 (where ‘charity’ is defined as a gift to a general public use which extends to the poor as well as to the rich); Ommanney v Butcher (1823) Turn & R 260 at 273 per Plumer MR; Goodman v Saltash Corpn (1882) 7 App Cas 633 at 650, HL, per Earl Cairns; Re Christchurch Inclosure Act (1888) 38 ChD 520 at 532, CA, per Lindley LJ; affd sub nom A-G Meyrick [1893] AC 1, HL)) and for the purposes of the Charities Act 2006 any reference to public benefit is a reference to that term as it is understood at common law (See the Charities Act 2006 s.3(3)). There are two distinct elements in this requirement: (1) the purpose must have an identifiable benefit; and (2) the benefit of the purpose must be available to a sufficient section of the public. The line of distinction between purposes of a public and a private nature is fine and practically incapable of definition (Re Drummond, Ashworth v Drummond [1914] 2 Ch 90 at 96 per Eve J; A-G v Pearce [1740] 2 Atk 87; Hall v Derby Borough Urban Sanitary Authority (1885) 16 QBD 163, DC; Shaw v Halifax Corpn [1915] 2 KB 170 at 182, CA, per Kennedy LJ.).

The Charity Commission has a statutory objective to promote awareness and understanding of the operation of the public benefit requirement (See the Charities Act 1993 s.1B) and must issue guidance in pursuance of that objective (See the Charities Act 2006 s 4(1)-(2). The Commission may from time to time revise any such guidance (s.4(3)) and must carry out such public and other consultation as it considers appropriate before issuing any such guidance or, unless it considers that it is unnecessary to do so, before revising any such guidance (s.4(4)). Any consultation initiated by the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales before 1 April 2008 (i.e. the day on which s.4 came into force (see Charities Act 2006 (Commencement No 4, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2008, SI 2008/945, art 2 Sch 1) is effective for these purposes as if it had been initiated by the Commission on or after that day: Charities Act 2006 s.75(3), Sch 10 para. 1. The Commission must publish any guidance issued or revised under this section in such manner as it considers appropriate: s.4(5).) Charity trustees must have regard to it when exercising any powers or duties to which the guidance is relevant (Charities Act 2006 s 4(6)).

Proof of public benefit. The question whether a purpose will or may be operative for the public benefit is a question to be answered by the court by forming an opinion on the evidence before it (National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31 at 44, [1947] 2 All ER 217 at 219, HL, per Lord Wright (approving Re Hummeltenberg, Beatty v London Spiritualistc Alliance Ltd [1923] 1 Ch 237, and overruling Re Foveaux, Cross V London Anti-Vivisection Society [1895] 2 Ch 501 at 507 per Chitty J); applied in Re Moss, Hobrough v Harvey [1949] 1 All ER 495. See also Re Grove-Grady, Plowden v Lawrence [1929] 1 Ch 557, CA, per Lord Hanworth MR, and at 583, 588, per Russell LJ; compromised on appeal sub nom A-G v Plowden [1931] WN 89, HL; Application for Registration of Living in Radiance, Decision of the Charity Commissioners, 25 August 2005, at 6.2.), having strict regard to the conditions of the gift (Re Pinion, Westminster Bank Ltd v Pinion [1965] Ch 85, [1964] 1 All ER 890, CA; revsg on this point Wilberforce J [1965] Ch 85, [1963] 2 All ER 1049.)

It is not to be presumed that a purpose of a particular description is for the public benefit. Despite this it is likely that the old common law position that a purpose may be so obviously beneficial to the community that to call evidence on the question would be absurd still stands; for example, where there is an obvious educational merit in a particular purpose the benefit will usually be clear. If the purpose of the gift is held to be beneficial to the public, it is not relevant for the court to inquire whether one means or another of achieving that purpose is most effective. However, if the element of public benefit is incapable of proof one way or the other, the court will not recognise the trust as being of a charitable nature.

A donor’s opinion with regard to whether the gift will be beneficial to the public, even when based on religious belief, and his motive, are both immaterial. The fact that a donor expressly refers to his ‘general charitable intention’ cannot impose on a gift a general charitable intention or make it charitable if, on the face of it, it has only a particular intention which is not charitable. It is for the court to consider each case upon its own special circumstances.

As circumstances differ from age to age, a purpose regarded in one age as for the public benefit and charitable may in another be regarded differently, so that a gift in the will of a testator dying in 1700 might be held valid upon the evidence then before the court but, upon different evidence, held invalid if he died in 1900. The converse may also be possible. This is not to say that a charitable trust, when it has once been established, can ever fail: a charity once established in perpetuity does not die, though its nature may be changed.

THE LAW OF CHARITIES

ESSENTIALS OF CHARITABLE PURPOSES

Meaning of ‘charity’. For the purposes of the law of England and Wales, ‘charity’ means an institution which is established for charitable purposes only and is subject to the control of the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction with respect to charities (Charities Act 2006 ss. 1(1), 78(2)(a). This definition does not apply for those purposes by virtue of that or any other enactment, or, in the Charities Act 2006, where the context otherwise requires: ss.1(2), 78(7). Certain exclusions of ecclesiastical property contained in the Charities Act 1993 s.96(2). Such exclusion does not have effect in relation to reference to the Charities Act 2006 s 1 or any references to the law relating to charities in England and Wales, save where the context requires otherwise; s.78(3), (7). ‘Enactment’, except where the context otherwise requires, includes any provision of subordinate legislation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act 1978, a provision of a Measure of the Church Assembly or of the General Synod of the Church of England and, in the context of s 6(5) or 75(5) any provision made by or under an Act of the Scottish Parliament or Northern Ireland legislation: s.78(4), 78(7). The requirement that an institution be subject to the control of the High Court in the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction with respect to charities is satisfied if the institution is subject to that jurisdiction in any significant respect: see Construction Industry Training Board v A-G [1971] 3 All ER 449, [1971] 1 WLR 130e; affd [1973] Ch 173, [1972] 2 All ER 1339, CA.] and see Construction Industry Training Board v A-G. See also the Report of the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales for 1990 (HC paper (1990-91) p. 362) App A (a). It does not have to be subject to that jurisdiction which the court exercises only over charities and not over other trusts or other corporate bodies, and it is sufficient if the court is competent to restrain the institution from applying its property ultra vires or in breach of trust: Construction Industry Training Board v A-G [1973] Ch 173, [1972] 2 All ER 1339, CA. For territorial limits on the operation of the Charities Act 2006 see s.80(2)-(9). For territorial limits on the on the operation of the Charities Act 1993 see s.100(2)-(6) (amended by the Charities Act 2006 ss.23(5), 75(1), Sch 8 para. 176). With limited exceptions neither Act extends to Scotland or Northern Ireland.) An ‘Institution’ means an institution whether incorporated or not, and includes a trust or undertaking (Charities Act 2006 s 78(5); Charities Act 1993 s.97(1) (definition amended by the Charities Act 2006 Sch 8 para. 174). This definition does not apply in the Charities Act 2006 where the context otherwise requires: s.78(7)).

The Charities Act 1960 established a register of charities (see the Charities Act 1960 s 4(1) (repealed)), which is continued by the Charities Act 1993 (see the Charities Act 1993 s 3(1)), and it is the duty of the charity trustees (‘Charity trustees’ means the persons having the general control and management of the administration of a charity: Charities Act 1993 s 97(1)) of any charity which is required to be registered (as to charities which are not required to be registered see the Charities Act 1993 s.3A(2)) to apply for registration (see the Charities Act 1993 s.3B(1)). The effect of registration is that an institution is for all purposes other than rectification of the register conclusively presumed to be or to have been a charity at any time when it is or was on the register of charities. (Charities Act 1993 s.4(1). See also Wynn v Skegness UDC [1996] 3 All E.R. 336, [1967] 1 WLR 52; Re Murawski’s Will Trusts, Lloyds Bank Ltd v. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [1971] 2 All ER 328, [1971] 1 WLR 707). The legislation does not provide, however, that an institution which, if it were a charity, would be required to be registered, but which is not registered, is for that reason not a charity (See Over Seventies Housing Association v Westminster City Council [1974] RA 247))

Charitable purposes. Charitable uses or trusts form a distinct head of equity (Income Tax Special Purposes Cmrs v Pemsel [1891] AC 531 at 580, HL, per Lord Macnaghten; cited in Royal College of Surgeons of England v National Provincial Bank Ltd [1952] AC 631 at 640, [1952] 1 All ER 984 at 992, HL.) and it is the court’s duty to determine whether particular purposes are charitable (National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31 at 63, [1947] 2 All ER 217 at 232, HL, per Lord Simonds.). The popular use of the expressions ‘charity’, ‘charitable’, ‘charitable objects’ and ‘charitable purposes’ does not coincide with their technical legal meaning according to the law of England (Income Tax Special Purposes Comrs v Pemsel [1981] AC 531 at 580, 583, HL, per Lord Macnaghten. As to the popular meaning see Income Tax Special Purposes Comrs v Pemsel at 552 per Lord Halsbury LC, at 564 per Lord Bramwell, and at 572 per Lord Herschell; and Baird’s Trustees v Lord Advocate [1888] 15 R 682, Ct of Sess; Verge v Somerville [1924] AC 496 at 502, PC.). The word ‘charitable’, when used in its legal sense, covers many objects which a layman might not consider to be included under that word, but it excludes some benevolent or philanthropic activities which a layman might consider charitable (Re Shaw, Public Trustee v Day [1957] 1 All ER 745, [1957] 1 WLR 729 at 736, per Harman J.).) Not every object which is beneficial to the community is charitable (National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31 at 41, [1947] 2 All ER 217 at 220, HL, per Lord Wright.)

For the purposes of the law of England and Wales, ‘charitable purposes’ means purposes which are for the public benefit (Charities Act 2006 ss.2(1)(b), 78(2)(b). This definition does not apply in the Charities Act 2006 where the context otherwise requires: s.78(7).) and fall within any of the following descriptions of purposes (Charities Act 2006 ss.2(1)(a), 78(2)(b). This definition does not apply in the Charities Act 2006 where the context otherwise requires: s.78(7). Any reference in any enactment or document (in whatever terms) to charitable purposes, or institutions having purposes that are charitable under charity law is to be construed in accordance with s.2(1): s.2(6) applies whether the enactment or document was passed or made before or after the passing of this Act, but does not apply where the context otherwise requires: s.2(7).):

  • the prevention or relief of poverty (Charities Act 2006 s 2(2)(a));
  • the advancement of education (Charities Act 2006 s 2(2)(b), ‘Religion’ includes a religion which involves belief in more than one god; and (2) a religion which does not involve belief in a god: s 2(3)(a));
  • the advancement of religion (Charities Act 2006 s 2(2)(c));
  • the advancement of health or the saving of lives;
  • the advancement of citizenship or community development;
  • the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science;
  • the advancement of amateur sport;
  • the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution or reconciliation or the promotion of religious or racial harmony or equality and diversity;
  • the advancement of environmental protection or improvement;
  • the relief of those in need by reason of youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage;
  • the advancement of animal welfare;
  • the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown, or of the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue services or ambulance services;
  • any other purposes recognised as charitable under existing charity law, including facilities for recreation or other leisure-time occupation, if the facilities are provided in the interests of social welfare;
  • any purposes that may reasonably be regarded as analogous to, or within the spirit of, a purpose falling within heads (1)-(13) above; and
  • any purposes that may reasonably be regarded as analogous to, or within the spirit of, a purpose which has been recognised under head (14) above.
  • .

Where any of the terms used in heads (1)-(13) above has a particular meaning under charity law, the term is to be taken as having the same meaning where it appears above. Accordingly, the cases previously decided on the subject remain relevant except in so far as they are contradicted by any provision in the Charities Act 2006.

All charitable purposes must fall within one or more of these categories of purposes, though not every institution or trust whose purpose might be brought within one of them is necessarily a charity, for it must, further, be publicly beneficial and of a public nature. Many charitable purposes do not fit neatly within a single category. Where a trust is described merely as being for charitable purposes, and a class of objects to be benefited is defined, the purposes of the trust cannot be taken to be confined to that particular charitable purpose which would render a trust for that class valid as a charity, but rather the purposes must be construed as being all the categories of charitable objects, and the trust must be interpreted in the light of the application of all categories to the class of objects to be benefited.

Where a purpose is clearly charitable the court will not generally inquire into the efficacy of the activities carried on in pursuance of that purpose, but such activities may be relevant in so far as they demonstrate whether there is any charitable tendency in a given purpose.

An activity which is charitable in the legal sense is not any the less charitable because it is being carried on without any regular organisation by a person who may discontinue it at any time. Such an activity would come within the statutory definition of charity as a trust or undertaking.

Public benefit essential. The Charities Act 2006 provides that a purpose is not charitable unless it is for the ‘public benefit’ and the element of public benefit is thus a necessary condition of legal charity (See the Charities Act 2006 s.2(1)(b)). This principle was previously established at common law (See Oppenheim v Tobacco Securities Trust Co Ltd [1951] AC 297 at 305, [1951] 1 All ER 31 at 33, HL, per Lord Simonds; Jones v Williams (1767) Amb 651 (where ‘charity’ is defined as a gift to a general public use which extends to the poor as well as to the rich); Ommanney v Butcher (1823) Turn & R 260 at 273 per Plumer MR; Goodman v Saltash Corpn (1882) 7 App Cas 633 at 650, HL, per Earl Cairns; Re Christchurch Inclosure Act (1888) 38 ChD 520 at 532, CA, per Lindley LJ; affd sub nom A-G Meyrick [1893] AC 1, HL)) and for the purposes of the Charities Act 2006 any reference to public benefit is a reference to that term as it is understood at common law (See the Charities Act 2006 s.3(3)). There are two distinct elements in this requirement: (1) the purpose must have an identifiable benefit; and (2) the benefit of the purpose must be available to a sufficient section of the public. The line of distinction between purposes of a public and a private nature is fine and practically incapable of definition (Re Drummond, Ashworth v Drummond [1914] 2 Ch 90 at 96 per Eve J; A-G v Pearce [1740] 2 Atk 87; Hall v Derby Borough Urban Sanitary Authority (1885) 16 QBD 163, DC; Shaw v Halifax Corpn [1915] 2 KB 170 at 182, CA, per Kennedy LJ.).

The Charity Commission has a statutory objective to promote awareness and understanding of the operation of the public benefit requirement (See the Charities Act 1993 s.1B) and must issue guidance in pursuance of that objective (See the Charities Act 2006 s 4(1)-(2). The Commission may from time to time revise any such guidance (s.4(3)) and must carry out such public and other consultation as it considers appropriate before issuing any such guidance or, unless it considers that it is unnecessary to do so, before revising any such guidance (s.4(4)). Any consultation initiated by the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales before 1 April 2008 (i.e. the day on which s.4 came into force (see Charities Act 2006 (Commencement No 4, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2008, SI 2008/945, art 2 Sch 1) is effective for these purposes as if it had been initiated by the Commission on or after that day: Charities Act 2006 s.75(3), Sch 10 para. 1. The Commission must publish any guidance issued or revised under this section in such manner as it considers appropriate: s.4(5).) Charity trustees must have regard to it when exercising any powers or duties to which the guidance is relevant (Charities Act 2006 s 4(6)).

Proof of public benefit. The question whether a purpose will or may be operative for the public benefit is a question to be answered by the court by forming an opinion on the evidence before it (National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC [1948] AC 31 at 44, [1947] 2 All ER 217 at 219, HL, per Lord Wright (approving Re Hummeltenberg, Beatty v London Spiritualistc Alliance Ltd [1923] 1 Ch 237, and overruling Re Foveaux, Cross V London Anti-Vivisection Society [1895] 2 Ch 501 at 507 per Chitty J); applied in Re Moss, Hobrough v Harvey [1949] 1 All ER 495. See also Re Grove-Grady, Plowden v Lawrence [1929] 1 Ch 557, CA, per Lord Hanworth MR, and at 583, 588, per Russell LJ; compromised on appeal sub nom A-G v Plowden [1931] WN 89, HL; Application for Registration of Living in Radiance, Decision of the Charity Commissioners, 25 August 2005, at 6.2.), having strict regard to the conditions of the gift (Re Pinion, Westminster Bank Ltd v Pinion [1965] Ch 85, [1964] 1 All ER 890, CA; revsg on this point Wilberforce J [1965] Ch 85, [1963] 2 All ER 1049.)

It is not to be presumed that a purpose of a particular description is for the public benefit. Despite this it is likely that the old common law position that a purpose may be so obviously beneficial to the community that to call evidence on the question would be absurd still stands; for example, where there is an obvious educational merit in a particular purpose the benefit will usually be clear. If the purpose of the gift is held to be beneficial to the public, it is not relevant for the court to inquire whether one means or another of achieving that purpose is most effective. However, if the element of public benefit is incapable of proof one way or the other, the court will not recognise the trust as being of a charitable nature.

A donor’s opinion with regard to whether the gift will be beneficial to the public, even when based on religious belief, and his motive, are both immaterial. The fact that a donor expressly refers to his ‘general charitable intention’ cannot impose on a gift a general charitable intention or make it charitable if, on the face of it, it has only a particular intention which is not charitable. It is for the court to consider each case upon its own special circumstances.

As circumstances differ from age to age, a purpose regarded in one age as for the public benefit and charitable may in another be regarded differently, so that a gift in the will of a testator dying in 1700 might be held valid upon the evidence then before the court but, upon different evidence, held invalid if he died in 1900. The converse may also be possible. This is not to say that a charitable trust, when it has once been established, can ever fail: a charity once established in perpetuity does not die, though its nature may be changed.