Leahy v Attorney-General (NSW)

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Leahy v Attorney-General for New South Wales [1959] HCA 20, (1959) 101 CLR 611, is an Australian and English trusts law case involving a charitable trust, heard by the High Court of Australia in 1959 and the Privy Council. The proceeding concerned the validity a gift to an unincorporated body, concluding that gifts in trust "cannot be made to a purpose or to an object" except for charitable circumstances.


The High Court of Australia held[1] that the trust was valid. The claimant appealed to the Privy Council. The Privy Council found that the trust was not valid as unincorporated associations are unable to accept gifts or bequests, unless they carry out a charitible cause.

Leahy v Attorney-General for New South Wales is commonly referenced in modern Australian law when dealing with issues surrounding bequests, gifts and the ability to contract of unincorporated associations.


Viscount Simonds stated that the "trust" failed for reason:

1) the trust was expressed as being made to the order of nuns, rather than to any specified individuals.

2) the terms of the trust being for the order of nuns would have been that the trust would be for the benefit of the people who would become nuns some time in the future. This offended the Perpetuities Rule

3) It could not have been intended that "immediate possession " of the rights of the beneficiaries could have been taken by all the nuns in the order over small homestead on a sheep farm

See also[edit]


  1. ^ On 20 April 1959

External links[edit]