fbpx

Allotment Holders – Lean On Your Spade and Think On the Legal Position

Allotment Holders - Lean On Your Spade and Think On the Legal Position

Few people who enjoy planting cabbages on allotments are aware that their plots are very likely to be of great antiquity and to be held on charitable trust for the public benefit. Two such trusts came under analysis in a High Court case in which managerial control over allotments dating back to the Victorian era was hotly contested.

Two neighbouring plots of land were in 1861 the subject of awards made under the Inclosure Act 1845 and were allotted for the public benefit. They were entrusted to the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor in the relevant parish and each plot was subject to a separate charitable trust. One plot was dedicated as a place of exercise and recreation for local inhabitants and the other for the benefit of the parish’s labouring poor.

The local parish council was established by the Local Government Act 1894. It simultaneously took over the role of the Churchwardens and Overseers and became sole trustee of the charities. In modern times, however, the plots had been the focus of a dispute concerning their past and future management.

The issue in the case was the identity of the current trustee or trustees of the charities. The council argued that it had never relinquished its role as sole trustee. However, a number of its members and former members asserted that they had been validly appointed as trustees by the council itself and that they, rather than the council, were empowered to make decisions relating to the plots.

The Court noted that the case revealed an apparent conflict between provisions of the 1894 Act and the Charities Act 2011. The former appeared to have the effect of confirming the council’s role as sole trustee. The latter, however, appeared to recognise as trustees those who were appointed as such by the council.

On a true reading of the relevant provisions, the Court found that the council had the power to appoint other trustees in its place. However, such appointments lasted a maximum of four years and appointees had no power either to extend their own terms of office or to appoint further trustees. Employing those principles, the Court identified six individuals as the charities’ current trustees.

Our articles are provided for general interest and information only. They do not constitute legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content accurately reflects the law in England as at the date of its transmission, no liability is accepted for any loss or damage arising from any act or omission resulting from any information contained herein.

Covid19 Information

WE ARE STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS HOWEVER, OUR FRONT DOORS WILL BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. For us all to be as safe as possible, our preference will be to interact with clients by telephone, email and/or zoom meetings ONLY. We would ask that if you have to drop any papers off at our offices, you use our Post Box unless you need anything copying, in those cases please knock the door and one of our receptionists will deal with you at the front door but only if you are wearing protective face coverings. If you require further assistance then a member from the relevant department will telephone you thereafter to discuss. We hope you understand that this is to safeguard you, our staff and to limit as much contact as possible. We may take a little longer to respond to enquiries and deal with matters. Please bear with us. FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW.