Legal Principles and Key Points
- In the case of Re Thompson  Ch. 342, it was found that a ‘purpose trust’ that instructed the beneficiary to use the legacy for the promotion and furthering of fox hunting was legally valid, and the residuary legatees could take action if the legacy was not so applied.
Facts of the Case
- The testator, a member of Trinity Hall in the University of Cambridge, died on 21st August 1932.
- His will, made on 14th December 1904, left a legacy of £1000 to his friend D to use in a manner that his absolute discretion thought fit for the promotion and furthering of fox hunting, leading his residuary estate to Trinity Hall for the benefit of the college.
- The executors of the testator’s will called an originating summons to determine whether the legacy was a valid bequest or failed due to a lack of a definite object who would benefit from such a trust, or for uncertainty on any other grounds.
- Could the promotion of a sport rather than a charitable purpose, or any general public purpose, serve as a definite object for a legally valid trust?
- Could a trust survive despite having no cestui que trust, or beneficiary, to enforce it?
Held by the Chancery Division
- That the trust was legally valid-the promotion and furthering of fox hunting was sufficiently certain and, since it was for a finite amount, did not conflict with the principle that a non-charitable trust cannot be perpetual.
- It is clear that D is not entitled to the legacy for his own benefit nor does he claim to benefit from it, but he clearly intends to carry out the testator’s wishes as he may lawfully do so.
- The gift in question is clearly not one of charity. A general gift for the benefit of animals would be charitable, but the object of this legacy cannot be construed as such. It is, however, defined clearly and is of a nature to which effect can be given.
- “The proper way for me to deal with the matter will be, not to make, as it is asked by the summons, a general declaration, but, following the example of Knight Bruce V.C. in Pettingall v Pettingall, to order that, upon the defendant Mr. Lloyd giving an undertaking (which I understand he is willing to give) to apply the legacy when received by him towards the object expressed in the testator’s will, the plaintiffs do pay to the defendant Mr. Lloyd the legacy of 1000l.; and that, in case the legacy should be applied by him otherwise than towards the promotion and furthering of fox-hunting, the residuary legatees are to be at liberty to apply” .