Attorney General v Zedra Fiduciary Services (UK) Ltd & Ors [2020] EWHC2988 (Ch)

Robert Pearce QC and Daniel Burton acted for the successful first defendant in Attorney General v Zedra Fiduciary Services (UK) Ltd [2020] EWHC 2988 (Ch). The case concerned the National Fund, a charity set up in 1928 by a donor of £500,000 with the aim of investing and accumulating the income of the fund until it, together with other hoped-for donations, would be large enough to discharge the National Debt. The fund has since grown to £500 million, but this is still a tiny fraction of the National Debt.

The Attorney General applied to the court for the fund to be released to the National Debt Commissioners.  Heirs of the donor intervened in the proceedings to claim that the trust of the fund was invalid.  The Attorney General and the trustee of the National Fund, represented by Robert Pearce QC and Daniel Burton, successfully opposed the arguments of the heirs, and the court confirmed that the fund is held on a valid charitable trust.

The court also held that it has jurisdiction to alter the terms of the trust to enable it to be distributed in advance of the time specified by the donor.  But the court also held that the Attorney General’s argument that the fund should be used to reduce the National Debt, in preference to some other mode of charitable application, was insufficiently strong for the court to adopt it without more investigation. The destination of the fund will be decided after a further hearing.

You can read the full judgment here.