The High Court has reinstated a Christian mortgage lending scheme as a charity after it was struck off the Register of Charities by the Charities Commission last April. Liberty Trust, suspected by the Charities Commission of being an illegal pyramid scheme, said its interest-free loans, largely funded by donations, were based on Bible principles. The trust was launched in Whakatane in 1989 and became a registered charity in 2007. “It is a scheme about giving in order to lead a Christian life free from the burdens of debt.” Justice Jill Mallon said.
Source: Dominion Post June 8, 2011, P. A3
[Liberty Trust: Charity registration number CC11287. Registered trust with the Companies Office (Reg. No. 428355)].
CHARITABLE STATUS OF LIBERY TRUST APPROVED BY HIGH COURT
2 June 2011: The Honourable Justice Mallon produced her judgement at 4.45pm today. Here is the conclusion:
 I consider that the Charities Commission erred in finding that Liberty Trust does not have, as its main purpose, a charitable purpose. Liberty Trust was set up to advance religion. It seeks to do that through teaching financial principles that Liberty Trust proclaims are the Bible’s financial principles. It seeks to teach those principles through providing a scheme which allows its followers (and anyone else who wishes to join up) to pool financial resources for the benefit of themselves and others. It reinforces the religious beliefs on which the scheme is based through its literature promoting the scheme and its other publications and teaching activities. It is not merely inspired by or conducive to religion. Its purpose, through this scheme, is to spread what is viewed as being the Bible’s message. In my view the purpose of Liberty Trust falls within the term “advancement of religion” as it has been interpreted in the cases.
 I also consider that the Charities Commission erred in finding that Liberty Trust’s activities do not exist for the public benefit. As a trust which has as its purpose the advancement of religion, the starting assumption is that it has a public benefit. The activities are not contended to be subversive to morality or a sham. It is not for the Court to impose its own views as to the religious beliefs that are advanced through the scheme. The benefits of the scheme are not focussed too narrowly on its adherents. It is open to anyone and the money donated is “recycled” for the benefit of others. Overall it is a scheme about “giving” in order to lead a Christian life free of the burdens of debt.
 I therefore allow Liberty Trust’s appeal. The Commission’s decision is set aside. Liberty Trust is to be reinstated to the Charities Register.
Read the full High Court judgment here: