Conservative and Unionist Central Office v Burrell

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Conservative and Unionist Central Office v Burrell
Conservative Campaign Headquarters.jpg
Citation(s) [1981] EWCA Civ 2, [1982] 1 WLR 522
Keywords
Associations, resulting trust, contract holding

Conservative and Unionist Central Office v Burrell [1981] EWCA Civ 2 is an English trusts law case, concerning the policy of the "beneficiary principle" and unincorporated associations.

Facts[edit]

The Inland Revenue argued that the Conservative Party (formally the Conservative and Unionist Party) should pay corporation tax under the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 section 526, because members’ contributions took effect as an accretion to the funds, the subject matter of a contract, which safeguarded what happened with the members’ funds.

Vinelott J [1980] 3 All ER 42 held that each contributor enters a contract with the treasurer, who undertakes to use the subscription for the association’s purposes. Breach would mean liability in contract.

Judgment[edit]

The Court of Appeal held there was no contract which connected the various limbs of the Conservative Party, and the various members, so the Re Recher analysis could not apply. Brightman LJ said donations to parties give a mandate or authority as an agent to the party treasurer to add the party’s funds. This must be used for party purposes. The mandate becomes irrevocable, but the contributor has a remedy to restrain misapplication of money unless his own contribution had been spent already (judged by ordinary accounting principles). It was accepted that the same kind of reasoning (whether contract or agency) could not apply for a dead person, although a dead person could authorise personal representatives to do so.

Lawton LJ, referring to the Income and Corporation Tax Act 1970, section 526 said the following:

Parliament meant two or more persons bound together for one or more common purposes, not being business purposes, by mutual undertakings, each having mutual duties and obligations, in an organisation which has rules which identify in whom control of it and its funds rests and upon what terms and which can be joined or left at will.

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