The Court of Appeal in London has overturned a High Court ruling ordering the Children's Investment Fund Foundation to award £280 million ($371.6 million) to Big Win Philanthropy as part of a divorce settlement, Civil Society and Third Sector report.
The court had ruled in June 2017 that CIFF — which was jointly founded by Sir Christopher Hohn and his then-wife, Jamie Cooper — must award £280 million to BWP, Cooper's new charity, in conjunction with her resignation as a CIFF trustee. CIFF's third trustee, Marko Lehtimaki, was ordered to approve the grant. Lehtimaki appealed the ruling, however, and last week the Court of Appeal ruled that Lehtimaki himself should decide, in the best interests of CIFF, whether to award the grant. The Court of Appeal judgment can be appealed again up to the Supreme Court.
According to Chris Willis Pickup, charities and social ventures partner at the law firm Taylor Vinters, the key legal issue in the case is whether members of charitable companies have fiduciaries obligations and therefore must act in the best interest of the company, as do members and trustees of other types of charities.
"This is an important judgment for charity law, and to an extent for charities too," said Willis Pickup. "Although the Court of Appeal has allowed the appeal, it agreed with the High Court that this charitable company's members have duties to act in the best interests of their charity."