Charities-Trust Essay

3692 Words Apr 9th, 2012 15 Pages
The legal definition of charity has historically been somewhat elusive and stands distinct from any understanding of charity in a general or popular sense. As Lord Wright observed, in its legal sense the word “charitable is a word of art, of precise and technical meaning”[1]. Viscount Simmonds further remarked that, “no comprehensive definition of legal charity has been given either by legislature or in judicial utterance, there is no limit to the number and diversity of ways in which man will seek to benefit his fellow men”[2]. The Preamble to the Charitable Uses Act 1601, also referred to as the Statute of Elizabeth I, contained a list of purposes which were then regarded as charitable. It assumed a central role for the courts as a …show more content…
As a general proposition, for its advancement to be capable of being charitable in this context, a religion should have a certain level of cogency, seriousness, coherence and importance[9]. Also, in order to be charitable for the advancement of religion, the content of any system of faith and worship has to be of a positive nature, impacting beneficially on the community. Sir John Wickens, V-C., in Cocks v Manners[10] observed: “It is said, in some of the cases, that religious purposes are charitable, but that can only be true as to religious services tending directly or indirectly towards the instruction or the edification of the public…” Hence, to be charitable a religious purpose has to be serious, tend directly or indirectly to the moral and spiritual improvement of the public as well as being for the public benefit.

In Holmes v Attorney General[11] Walton J commented: “… It is not for the benefit of the adherents of the religion themselves that the law confers charitable status, it is in the interests of the public.” Hence, as a general proposition, in the case of charities for the advancement of religion the purpose must not simply be for the benefit of the followers of the particular religion. Formerly, the proposition stated that “as between different religions the law stands neutral, but it assumes that any religion is at least likely to be better than none”[12]. Plowman J in Re Watson[13] considered a
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