Varsani and others v Jesani, Patel and Her Majesty’s Attorney-General: CA 3 Apr 1998

A Hindu religious sect, constituted as a charity, had split into two factions.
Held: The court had jurisdiction to order that the assets of the sect should be divided under the powers in the Act, and held upon separate trusts for the two factions. The court declined to adjudicate as to which group was correctly following the faith, and therefore applied the cy pres doctrine in dividing the assets. Earlier cases had now been overtaken by the Charities Act, and the question fell to be settled in accordance with section 13. The spirit of the gift to which the court is to have regard is that which prevailed at the time of the gift when the two groups were in harmony. The court will not venture into doctrinal disputes or differences.


Sir Stephen Brown, Lord Justice Morritt, Lord Justice Chadwick


[1998] EWCA Civ 630, [1999] Ch 219, [1998] 3 All ER 273




Charities Act 1993 13(1)(e)(iii)


England and Wales


Not followedCraigdallie v Aikman PC 14-Jun-2013
A chapel was acquired with the subscriptions of a congregation which seceded from the Church of Scotland in 1737 and subsequently split over whether a magistrate might suppress heresy. Each of the rival groups claimed that the chapel belonged to . .
Not followedAttorney-General v Pearson 1817
No Alteration to Charty’s Objects
A protestant dissenters’ meeting house in Wolverhampton which was declared by a trust deed to be held for ‘the worship and service of God’ was the subject of a dispute between the schismatic congregation. The issue was the nature of the worship . .
Not followedGeneral Assembly of Free Church of Scotland v Overtoun HL 1904
Craigdallie stated settled law: ‘My Lords, I disclaim altogether any right in this or any other civil court of this realm to discuss the truth or reasonableness of any of the doctrines of this or any other religious association, or to say whether . .
CitedRe Camden’s Charity 1881
. .
CitedRe Lepton’s Charity 1972
. .
CitedGilmour v Coats HL 1949
Prayers Alone did not make Convent Charitable
A trust to apply the income of a fund for all or any of the purposes of a community of Roman Catholic Carmelite nuns living in seclusion and spending their lives in prayer, contemplation and penance, was not charitable because it could not be shown . .

Cited by:

CitedThe Bahamas District of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas and Others v The Hon Vernon J Symonette M P Speaker of the House of Assembly and 7 Others (No 70 of 1998) and Ormond Hilton Poitier and 14 Others v The Methodist Church PC 26-Jul-2000
PC (The Bahamas) The Methodist community had split, eventually leading to a new Act. Others now challenged the constitionality of the Act, and that lands had been transferred in breach of the constitution.
CitedBlake v Associated Newspapers Ltd QBD 31-Jul-2003
The claimant, a former Anglican priest, sued in defamation. The defendant argued that the claim was non-justiciable since it would require the court to adjudicate on matters of faith and religious doctrine.
Held: The claim could not be heard. . .
CitedKhaira and Others v Shergill and Others CA 17-Jul-2012
The parties disputed the trusteeship and governance of two Gurdwaras (Sikh temples). The defendants now applied for the claim to be struck out on the basis that the differences were as to Sikh doctrines and practice and as such were unjusticiable. . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Trusts, Ecclesiastical, Charity

Updated: 18 November 2022; Ref: scu.144108