O'Neill v Commissioner of Valuation; Council of Alexandra College v Same

CourtKing's Bench Division (Ireland)
JudgeK. B. Div.
Judgment Date02 July 1914
Date02 July 1914
O'Neil and Others,
The Commissioner of Valuation,
The Council of Alexandra College and School,
The Commissioner of Valuation,
Respondent (1).

K. B. Div.











Poor rate — Charity — Exemption — Hereditaments used exclusively for charitable purposes — User for educational purposes, not being for education of the poor — Valuation (Ireland) Act, 1852 (15 & 16 Vict, c. 63), s. 15 — Valuation (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1854 (17 & 18 Vict, c. 8), s. 2.

The words “charitable purposes” in sect. 15 of the Valuation (Ireland) Act, 1852, and sect. 2 of the Valuation (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1854, so far as they exempt from rating by reason of the user being educational, are limited to user for the education of the poor.

Quære—Are the words confined to charitable purposes of a public character for the benefit of the entire community?

The dictum in Clancy v. Commissioner of Valuation, [1911] 2 I. R. 173, at p. 180, that the word “charitable” in the above sections should be construed in the large sense in which it is used in the Income Tax Acts, is too general.

These were cases stated by the Recorder of Dublin under sect. 10 of the Annual Revision of Rateable Property (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1860.

The Rev. George O'Neill and others, appellants; The Commissioner of Valuation, Respondent.

The case set out as follows:—

“This was an appeal under the 22nd sect. of the General Valuation Act, 1852, from the refusal of the Commissioner of Valuation to distinguish the tenement known as University Hall, Hatch Street, Dublin, on the valuation lists, as a tenement used exclusively for charitable purposes.

“The hall is a resident hall, or hostel, in which each student has a separate room fitted up as a bedroom and study, common dining-room, debating-room, and other general rooms usually found in clubs, for example, billiard-rooms, &c.

“The building is beautiful and artistic, lighted throughout by electricity, and, in addition to the accommodation referred to, contains a private chapel.

“Three members of the Jesuit Order are resident during the period the students may occupy rooms, which the evidence showed was from thirty to thirty-two weeks. The number of students at present is thirty-eight, and each pays a stipend of £50 in respect of the session of thirty-two weeks.

“There are no free students, and all benefits are confined to students able and willing to pay the stipend, and who are Roman Catholics pursuing studies in any of the educational establishments of the City and County of Dublin.

“There is no secular teaching whatever; and it was not suggested the stipend was an insufficient one, and in fact it is a remunerative sum for the mere board and residence of students.

“The history of the hall, or hostel, appears to be that the late Father Conmee, a member of the Jesuit Order, by his will appointed the Rev. Peter Finlay, S.J., his executor, and from this source the funds for purchase of site and building were either wholly or in part obtained. The circumstances appear in the evidence. By deed of the 18th March, 1913, made between the Very Rev. William Delany and the Rev. Peter Finlay, of the one part, and the Rev. Timothy Corcoran and the Rev. John Fahy, of the other part, the trusts of the tenement, the subject of application, were declared.

“This deed and the prospectus were put in evidence, and are to be read into and form part of this case.

“The evidence demonstrated that the user of the hall was that of a residential hostel, or club, supervised and carried on by the Jesuit Fathers for Roman Catholic students paying an adequate stipend.

“The witnesses examined gave the following evidence:—

“The Rev. Peter Finlay, S.J.—‘Am executor of late Father Conmee. I settled the premises in Hatch Street; paid £2200 for site; £26,000 cost of building. In November, 1913, executed deed; management up to certain stage familiar to me; I was not concerned with opening; accommodation for eighty students; there are forty.’

“Cross-examined:—‘Money came from Mr. Kennedy I think. Institution includes all the advantages of a hotel, with intimate social college life; educational and religious training, and outdoor amusement [pamphlet referred to]. The primary idea that Catholic students shall have a home, plus religious instruction, but primarily for religious purposes; do not get board and lodging for nothing; it is exclusively for Roman Catholic students.’

“Rev. Thomas Finlay, S.J.—‘I have been living-in for a few months (1913); opened in January; am managing president; responsible for the management and the students who reside there; although not a party, am familiar with trust deed; in January last opened; thirty students entered, went to about forty, there are thirty-eight now; they pay a uniform pension of £50 a year; £16 16s. a term; give them usual maintenance, board and lodging, library, help and guide them, chapel, religious instruction books; the trustees keep minutes.’ [A minute-book, the 19th June, 1913, referred to.]

“Cross-examined—‘Object in University Hall is same as any Catholic college.’

“Rev. T. Finlay recalled by applicant—‘There are three Jesuit Fathers in charge of hall; the sessions occupy from thirty to thirty-two weeks; the three Jesuit Fathers sometimes reside, and sometimes the place kept running by servants during rest of year; the fees from students only entitle them to remain during the session.

“Mr. Clancy, for the Corporation of Dublin, contended that it was never decided that, where the work of providing board and lodging was the real object of an institution, although religious or other instruction be given, such an institution was either necessarily or prima facie charitable at all; that the real object in this case was to provide a home for Roman Catholics on payment of a substantial stipend, and it would be ridiculous to treat such a provision, because religious instruction or supervision was given, as a charitable trust, and certainly as one used exclusively for charitable purposes. He contended to do so would leave the door open to the widest abuse, and would practically enable almost every institution, educational, religious, or otherwise, to evade assessment. He relied strongly upon the statement of the law by Lord Justice Holmes in the CemeteriesCase (1), and insisted that the application was ruled by it.

“Mr. Wilson, for the appellants, contended that the trusts were charitable; that the provision by which any profit or income derivable from the pension of students was absolutely dedicated to the charitable purpose, rendered the institution one exclusively used and maintained for charitable purposes within the meaning of the Act. He relied upon the De la SalleCase (2); the Cork University CollegeCase (3); the ClancyCase (4); the PemselCase (5); and contended that the statement of Lord Justice Holmes, p. 171 of Irish Reports, vol. ii (1897), was not law.”

Mr. Doyle, K.C., and Mr. Lynch, K.C., for the Commissioner of Valuation—‘This establishment is in the nature of a club for students of a limited class.’ They cited Oxford Colleges Poor Rate (6); the CharterhouseCase (7).

“I was of opinion on the facts proved that the hall was in reality a hostel for board and residence, the benefits of which were confined exclusively to persons of a named faith, able and willing to pay for the advantages it affords to students, and was not in any sense used exclusively for charitable purposes within the meaning of the 63rd section of 1 & 2 Vict. c. 56, the 2nd section of 17 Vict. c. 8, and the 16th section of 15 & 16 Vict. c. 63.

“My reasons for dismissing this appeal are more fully stated in the judgment delivered by me.

“The appellants, under the 10th section of the Annual Revision of Rateable Property (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1860, requested me to state a case for the opinion of the King's Bench Division on the following question:—

“Whether on the facts in this case the University Hall is a

tenement used exclusively for charitable purposes within the meaning of 17 Vict. c. 8, sect. 2, as controlled by the 15 & 16 Vict. c. 63, sect. 16.”

The objects of the foundation as set forth in the deed of trust were as follows—

“1. To provide for Roman Catholic men pursuing courses of study or research in the city of Dublin, whether in University Hall itself, or at any university, laboratory, library, professional, commercial, or other schools, or elsewhere (hereinafter called ‘the beneficiaries’), an institution (with or without residence) which shall offer facilities for the pursuit of such study and research, and shall at the same time be conducted and managed with a particular view to the spiritual, intellectual, moral, and social wants of the beneficiaries as Roman Catholic students, and so as to afford them as well common academic life as adequate spiritual and moral supervision and guidance in accordance with the tenets and principles, doctrinal and disciplinary, of the Roman Catholic Church.

“2. To provide lecture-rooms and class-rooms for the delivery of lectures or the other imparting of instruction, and the conducting or the assisting of study, secular or religious, and either independent of or supplementary to the study or researches so being pursued by the beneficiaries as aforesaid.

“3. To provide places of meeting for social intercourse and discussion or debate among the beneficiaries or any group or number of the beneficiaries pursuing the same or similar courses of study or research or having common interests.

“4. To provide for the beneficiaries a chapel or other place for divine worship and religious instruction, and otherwise to enable them to obey the precepts and enjoy the ministrations of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

“5. To provide the beneficiaries with a library and reading-rooms and...

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