The Cy-près doctrine

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The Cy-près doctrine
  • Cy-prės definition
  • Charitable purpose
  • Equitable cy-près situations
  • Statutory cy-près situations
  • Impossibility or impracticability
  • Failure of objects
  • Lack of suitable location
  • No location available
  • Lack of funds
  • More...

The Cy-près doctrine

FORTHCOMING CHANGE: On 22 March 2021, the government published its response to the Law Commission’s report of 14 September 2017, ‘Technical Issues in Charity Law’. The Report stemmed in part from Lord Hodgson’s review in July 2012 pursuant to section 73 of the Charities Act 2006 (ChaA 2006), ‘Trusted and Independent: Giving charity back to charities’. The Report made 43 recommendations, in 12 areas. The Response wholly or partially accepted 38 of the recommendations—including in relation to Cy-près schemes and the proceeds of fundraising appeals. For a commentary on the Response please see News Analysis: Government response to Law Commission report ‘Technical Issues in Charity Law’. It is worth bearing the proposals – and the Response – in mind when considering and advising on charity law in general.

The government accepted the recommendations that:

  1. in the case of failed fundraising appeals a donation should be applicable cy-près without the trustees having to take steps to contact the donors in order to offer to return the donation if the donation does not exceed £120 and the trustees reasonably believe that the total given by the donor to the fundraising appeal over the financial year did not exceed £120 unless the donor states that the donation must be returned if the specific charitable purposes fail (and that those financial thresholds should be capable of amendment by way of secondary legislation); 

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