Feeney and Shannon v.MacManus and Others

Judgment Date01 December 1937
Date01 December 1937
CourtHigh Court (Irish Free State)
Feeney and Shannon v. MacManus and Others

Club - Unregistered and unincorporated members' club - Destruction of club property - Club ceasing to function - Date of dissolution of club - Unexpended funds at dissolution - Whether distributable amongst members at date of dissolution - Bonn vacantia.

A club, known as the "General Post Office (Dublin) Dining Club," which was neither registered nor incorporated, functioned in the General Post Office, Dublin, until the destruction of that building by fire in Easter Week, 1916. The club was a members' club, the membership being limited to certain classes of Post Office officials. Its object was to provide refreshment for the members at reasonable prices, and it was managed by a committee of nine members elected annually to hold office for the ensuing year. All the property of the club was destroyed in the burning of the General Post Office. The club, however, had certain invested funds in the names of the club office-bearers, the chairman, treasurer and secretary. In addition to the invested funds, the club officers claimed and obtained in respect of the loss of their property, an ex gratia grant of £330 from a Committee set up by the British Government to enquire into losses sustained by damage to property during Easter Week, 1916. The club ceased to function after the destruction of the General Post Office, except that a meeting was held in December, 1916, at which persons who were not members were present and voted and which adjourned without transacting any business. When the application for compensation was made, the Secretary (one of the plaintiffs) was asked for, and gave, an undertaking to the Committee that the compensation would be devoted to purposes similar to those discharged by the club. Subsequently, when in 1929 the General Post Office was re-opened, another club, with similar objects and membership as the original club, was formed.

The two plaintiffs, as the last Secretary and Treasurer of the club, respectively, brought an action claiming declarations and enquiries in respect of the distribution of the club property, which since 1916 had been invested in their names. The defendants were, by motion, appointed to defend the action on behalf of the members of the club who were such in 1916.

Held, 1, That the property of the, club did not go to the, State, as bona vacantia, the, Attorney-General having appeared in the action, at the direction of the Judge, and disclaimed any interest in the property on behalf of the State; 2, that neither the original invested funds nor the ex gratia compensation grant could be given to the new club, the undertaking of the Secretary not being binding on the members of the club; 3, that the whole fund must be distributed in equal shares amongst the persons who were members of the club at the time of its dissolution and the personal representatives of those who had died since that date.

Tierney v. Tough, [1914] 1 I. R. 142, applied.

The date of dissolution was fixed as April 26th, 1916, the date upon which the fire first broke out in the General Post Office, the irregular meeting held in December, 1916, being disregarded.

Witness Action.

The plaintiffs brought this action, as the Secretary and Treasurer of the "General Post Office (Dublin) Dining Club,"claiming:—

"1. A declaration that the plaintiffs hold the investments representing a sum of £330 and accumulated interest thereon paid to the plaintiffs in the year 1916 by the Government on the occasion of the destruction in the General Post Office at Dublin in Easter Week, 1916, of property belonging to an unincorporated society called the "G.P.O. (Dublin) Dining Club" in the events which have happened, upon trusts for objects to be selected by the plaintiffs, or as the Court may declare, similar to those discharged by the society.

2. That it may be declared, if necessary, upon what, if any, other trusts now capable of being carried into effect, the said investments are held by the plaintiffs.

3. An inquiry, if necessary, as to who are the present members, if any, of the said society.

4. A declaration as to what, if any, are the rights of such members in the said investments.

5. That it may be declared who is now entitled to, or upon what trusts, if any, now capable of being carried into effect, the plaintiffs hold certain investments representing funds, and accumulated interest thereon, belonging to the said society when it ceased to function in Easter Week, 1916.

6. If necessary, for an order that the trusts affecting (a) the said sum of £330 and accumulated interest thereon, and (b) the said fund and accumulated interest thereon, belonging to the said society when it ceased to function as aforesaid may be administered by the Court."

The facts, as set out in the statement of claim, so far as material for the purpose of this report, were as follows:—

"1. The plaintiff, Francis Joseph Feeney, is the last appointed Secretary, and the plaintiff, Patrick James Shannon, is the last appointed Treasurer of an unincorporated and unregistered Society or Club, known as the General Post Office (Dublin) Dining Club (hereinafter called 'the Club').

2. The Club functioned in the General Post Office at O'Connell Street, Dublin, until the destruction of that building by fire in Easter Week, 1916.

3. The object of the Club was to provide refreshments for the members at reasonable prices and the membership was limited to certain classes of Post Office officials. The Club was managed by a Committee of nine members, holding office for twelve months from the annual general meeting. The executive officers were a Secretary and a Treasurer elected by the Committee.

4. All the property and documents belonging to the Club were destroyed in the burning of the General Post Office in 1916. A copy of the Rules of the said Club is in existence but there is...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • Dunne and Others v Mahon and Another
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 10 October 2012
  • Joyce Irene Hardy and Another v David John Hoade and Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Chancery Division
    • 6 October 2017
    ...12.1 In Brown v. Dale (1878) 9 Ch.D. 78, the court ordered a per capita distribution on the dissolution of a club. 12.2 In Feeney & Shannon v. MacManus [1937] I.R. 23, the Court found that it was impossible to determine the members' proportionate contributions. Accordingly, it ordered equal......
  • Dublin 8 Residents Association v an Bord Pleanala
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 12 August 2022
    ...Residential Tenancies Act 2016. http://revisedacts.lawreform.ie/eli/2016/act/17/revised/en/html Domestic caselaw (i). Feeney v. MacManus [1937] I.R. 23. https://app.justis.com/case/feeney-and-shannon-vmacmanus-and-others/overview/c4Cdn3qdn4Wca (ii). Walsh v. Butler [1997] IEHC 9, [1997] 2 I......
  • John Dunne and Others v Oliver Mahon and Another
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 8 April 2014
    ...no separate legal personality ( Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association v An Bord Pleanala & ors [2013] IESC 51; Feeney v. McManus [1937] I.R. 23). However, that is not to say that a club does not have some form of legal existence. So long as the contract between its members stays in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • ‘Inherent jurisdiction’ Explained
    • Ireland
    • Mondaq Ireland
    • 13 March 2013
    ...(1) See Lord Diplock, Bremer Vulkan Schiffbau und Maschinenfabrik v South India Shipping Corp [1981] AC 909, p977. (2) 2012 IEHC 412. (3) [1937] IR 23. (4) (No 2) (1950) 84 ILTR 9 (5) [1904] 2 Ch 196. (6) (1894) 10 TLR 533. (7) (1980) MLR 626 . (8) Re Buck's Widows' Fund (No 2) [1979] 1 WLR......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT