Re Recher’s Will Trusts: ChD 1972

The deceased gave a share of the residue, to ‘The Anti-Vivisection Society, 76 Victoria Street, London S.W.1.’ She died in 1962 and her husband died in 1968. Until the end of 1956 a non-charitable unincorporated society, known as the ‘London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society’ had carried on its activities at 76 Victoria Street, but in 1957 it was amalgamated with a larger non-charitable unincorporated society, known as ‘The National Anti-Vivisection Society’ of 27 Palace Street, London S.W.1. and the Victoria Street premises were closed down. It changed its name to ‘The National Anti-Vivisection Society (incorporating the London and Provincial Antivivisection Society).’ In 1963 the National Anti-Vivisection Society Ltd was incorporated and the assets were vested in it. It was not a charity. The gift had to be construed as a gift to the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society, 76 Victoria Street, and not to the larger combined society. It was not to be construed as a gift in trust for the purposes of the Society. It could have taken effect as a legacy to the members of the society beneficially, as an accretion to the funds which constituted the subject matter of the contract by which the members had bound themselves inter se. But since the Society had been dissolved, the gift could not be construed as a gift to the members of a different association and they therefore failed. A trust for non-charitable purposes, as a distinct from a trust for individuals, was clearly void because there is no beneficiary.
But: ‘It does not, however, follow that persons cannot band themselves together as an association or society, pay subscriptions and validly devote their sums in pursuit of some lawful non-charitable purpose. An obvious example is a members’ social club. . . Such an association is bound . . to have some sort of constitution; that is to say, the rights and liabilities of the members of the association will inevitably depend on some form of contract inter se, usually evidenced by a set of rules .. As and when a member paid his subscription to the association, he would be subjecting his money to the disposition and expenditure thereof laid down by the rules . . The resultant situation, on analysis, is that the . . society represented an organisation of individuals bound together by a contract under which their subscriptions became, as it were, mandated towards a certain type of expenditure … Just as the two parties to a bi-partite bargain can vary or terminate their contract by mutual assent, so it must follow that the life members, ordinary members and associate members of the . . society could, at any moment of time, by unanimous agreement (or by majority vote, if the rules so prescribe), vary or terminate their multi-partite contract. There is no private trust or trust for charitable purposes or other trust to hinder the process.’
Brightman J
[1972] Ch 529
England and Wales

  • Approved – Neville Estates Ltd v Madden ChD 1962
    A charitable trust was created for the benefit of the members of Catford Synagogue.
    Held: The court considered three categories of valid non-charitable purpose gifts: (1) an absolute gift to members of an association at the date of the gift, . .
    [1962] Ch 832

Cited by:

  • Cited – Hunt and Another v McLaren and others ChD 4-Oct-2006
    Land had been given to a football club under a trust for its exclusive use as such. That land was sold and a new ground acquired and a stadium built, but the land was subject to restrictive covenenats limiting its use to sports, which considerably . .
    [2006] EWHC 2386 (Ch)

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 December 2020; Ref: scu.245266