Hanchett-Stamford v A-G

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Hanchett‐Stamford v Attorney‐General
MixedBreedFace1 wb.jpg
Court High Court
Citation(s) [2008] EWHC 330 (Ch), [2009] Ch 173
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Lewison J
Contract, unincorporated association, beneficiary principle

Hanchett‐Stamford v Attorney‐General [2008] EWHC 330 (Ch) is an English trusts law case, concerning the destination of property that is held by unincorporated associations when they wind up. The High Court applied the view that money is held according to the terms of the association contract while the association exists, and when the association ends any surplus funds go to the member of the association.


The Performing and Captive Animals Defence League was founded as an unincorporated association in 1914, with the purpose of banning animals performing. It was decided the league had no charitable status in 1949, after National Anti-Vivisection Society v IRC, because it was meant to change the law. Mr and Mrs Hanchett-Stamfor joined as life members in the mid 1960s, he died in 2006 and she was the sole surviving member of the society. She decided to wind up and give the money to an active animal charity, seeking a declaration that the work and objects of the league were charitable under the Charities Act 2006 section 2(2)(k) and appointed herself and her solicitor as trustees of the fund, or just take the money herself.[1]


Lewison J held the society was not charitable. However, he held that on her husband’s death the league ceased to exist, the rules ceased to bind her, and she was absolutely entitled to the assets as the sole surviving member. He held there was no need, in fact, to invoke a new form of co ownership.[2] The donor transfers property to the members beneficially, but the property is received by the members as group property, as an accretion to an association’s funds. This means its use is to be governed by contract. That removes the risk that members decide to sever their share.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See C Mitchell, Hayton and Mitchell's Commentary and Cases on the Law of Trusts and Equitable Remedies (13th edn Sweet & Maxwell 2010) 237 and 590
  2. ^ [2009] Ch 173, at [47]


External links[edit]