Commissioner of Valuation for Northern Ireland v Lurgan Borough Council: CANI 1968

The respondent local authority owned an indoor swimming pool. It claimed exemption from rates under section 2 of the 1854 Act saying that it was used exclusively for the purposes of a recreational charity under the Act of 1958.
Held: (By a majority) The ground of exemption was established. Lord MacDermott said: ‘Here, I think, there can be no doubt that in the construction, equipment and running of this hereditament the Council has provided facilities for recreation. The big question is – have these facilities been provided ‘in the interests of social welfare’? ‘Social welfare’ is a somewhat vague and uncertain expression. Taken by itself I still incline to the view I expressed in National Deposit Friendly Society Trustees v. Skegness Urban District Council, that it signifies something more than ‘social well-being’. In the present context, however, I do not think it necessary to speculate as to the precise distinction to be drawn between these two expressions as subsection (2) of section 1, though not exactly a definition, provides in effect, in my opinion, the essential elements which must be present if a state of social well-being is to amount to ‘social welfare’ as that expression is used in the section. These elements are to be drawn from paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2). By (a) the facilities must be provided with the object of improving the conditions of life for the persons for whom the facilities are primarily intended. To my mind the provision of the hereditament satisfies that requirement. The primary object, even if confined to the phraseology of the preamble to the Act of 1846, was clearly to improve the conditions of life of the inhabitants of the Borough of Lurgan and if, as I have held, this was done in a manner which enured for the benefit of the public at large, paragraph (a) would still be complied with. It is clear from the terms of the case stated that the hereditament was not only provided to improve the conditions of life for those for whom it was primarily intended, but that in fact it has done so. The full use which has been made of the hereditament since its inauguration is, I think, cogent evidence that it has filled a need in the life of the community and has added to the enjoyment of its members.
The second requirement to be satisfied is one or other of the subparagraphs of paragraph (b). Of these alternatives I am of opinion that subparagraph (i) does not apply so as to support the Council’s case. There is nothing in the case stated that I can see which shows that those benefited have need of the facilities provided by reason of any of the specific factors mentioned, ie. youth, age, infirmity or disablement, poverty or social and economic circumstances. But subparagraph (ii), on the views I have already expressed, is applicable for the facilities of the hereditament are available to the public at large.’


Lord MacDermott LCJ


[1968] NI 104


Valuation (Ireland) Amendment Act 1854 82


Northern Ireland

Cited by:

CitedGuild v Inland Revenue Commissioners HL 6-May-1992
The will left land for a sports centre to a local authority which no longer existed. If the gift was charitable, the gift would be applied cy pres, but if not it would fail and pass to the family and be subect to Inheritance Tax.
Held: A gift . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Rating, Charity

Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.273194