"To what extent should the law recognise non-charitable purpose trusts?"

Essay by ClarelouUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, April 2004

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Non-charitable purpose trusts can be defined as 'private trusts intended to benefit purposes rather than beneficiaries' . If the certainty of object is not qualified, then the trust usually fails because it is 'administratively unworkable', this is often the case therefore for trusts which are merely established for a particular purpose rather than for a specified human beneficiary.

Purpose trusts have been established and largely defined in case law, namely Re Astor's Settlement Trust [1952] . An inter vivos trust was created by Lord Astor which had among its objects 'The maintenance of good understanding, sympathy and co-operation between nations, the preservation of the independence and integrity of newspapers, and the protection of newspapers from being absorbed by combines.' It can be seen that the trust has no human objects and is specifically for purposes and not individuals; 'A Trust to be valid must be for the benefit of individuals, which this is certainly not, or must be in the class of gifts for the benefit of the public which the courts in this country recognize as charitable in the legal as opposed to the popular sense of the term' .

It was on these grounds that the trust failed.

There seem to be five main reasons given for invalidity of purpose trusts, namely:

- The "beneficiary principle"

- Uncertainty (in the sense of lack of certainty of intention);

- Impossibility (or impracticability in the administration of the trust);

- Perpetuity; and

- Public policy.

The essence of a trust is that it is an obligation concerning property which is enforceable in the courts which will control the trustees and, in rare cases, even carry out the trust. There must thus be beneficiaries who can apply to the court to enforce their rights. It follows that a trust must be...