Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v Henning (Valuation Officer): HL 1964

The House was asked whether the Mormon Temple at Godstone was exempt from rates as a ‘place of public religious worship’.
Held: The words could not apply to places used for religious worship from which the public was excluded.
Lord Pearce said that Parliament was entitled to take the view that religious services which were open to the public provided a public benefit which justified the exemption. He explained that from 1601 churches of the Church of England were not subject to rates and that this exemption was extended by the Poor Rate Exemption Act 1833 to ‘any churches . . meetinghouses, or premises, or any part thereof that shall be exclusively appropriated to public religious worship’. He continued: ‘By the Act of 1833 the legislature was intending to extend the privileges of exemption enjoyed by the Anglican churches to similar places of worship belonging to other denominations. Since the Church of England worshipped with open doors and its worship was in that sense public, it is unlikely that the legislature intended by the word ‘public’ some more subjective meaning which would embrace in the phrase ‘public religious worship’ any congregational worship observed behind doors closed to the public.
I find it impossible, therefore, to hold that the words ‘places of public religious worship’ includes places which, though from the worshippers’ point of view they were public as opposed to domestic, yet in the more ordinary sense were not public since the public was excluded.
. . Furthermore, it is less likely on general grounds that Parliament intended to give exemption to religious services that exclude the public, since exemptions from rating, though not necessarily consistent, show a general pattern of intention to benefit those activities which are for the good of the general public. All religious services that open their doors to the public may, in an age of religious tolerance, claim to perform some spiritual service to the general public . . ‘


Lord Pearce


[1964] AC 420


Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1955 7(2)(a)


England and Wales


Appeal fromChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v Henning (Valuation Officer) CA 1962
The court was asked whether a Mormon Temple was a public place of worship. Lord Denning MR rejected an argument that the Temple was merely a church hall: ‘The short answer is that this temple is not a church hall, chapel hall nor a similar building. . .

Cited by:

CitedGallagher (Valuation Officer) v Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints HL 30-Jul-2008
The House considered whether certain properties of the Church were subject to non-domestic rating. Various buildings were on the land, and the officer denied that some fell within the exemptions, and in particular whether the Temple itself was a . .
CitedThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v United Kingdom ECHR 4-Mar-2014
The claimant said that it had been wrongfully deprived of relief from business rates for its two temples. It asserted that it was a religion, and that the treatment was discriminatory. The government said that the refusal was on the basis alone that . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Rating, Ecclesiastical

Updated: 05 May 2022; Ref: scu.272215