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Undue pressure or moral obligation: religious gifting and undue influence

Vinny Kennedy (Northumbria Law School, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 4 February 2021

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




This paper aims to stimulate discussion on how best to protect individuals from undue influence when gifting to religious institutions in England and Wales.


This paper is based on the law relating to undue influence in England and Wales and draws from the literature regarding gifting to religious institutions and accountability of such institutions.


This paper identifies that more needs to be done to protect individuals, so as to ensure they are gifting to religious institutions using their own free will. It highlights that although the law attempts to define undue influence, there is little guidance on where the line between persuasion and coercion lies. The paper recognises that religious institutions need to do more to adopt safeguarding policies and that the Charity Commission ought to better support such policies by creating a single point of reference.

Practical implications

Steps need to be taken to prepare a cohesive set of principles that religious institutions of all denominations can follow to ensure they protect themselves from being accused of undue influence, as well as safeguarding individuals from abuse.


There are limited studies that consider the dichotomy between religious gifting and undue influence. This paper adds to the existing discussion and considers ways in which individuals can be protected. The author is not aware of such considerations being directly contemplated as resolutions to this issue.



Kennedy, V. (2021), "Undue pressure or moral obligation: religious gifting and undue influence", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 158-168.



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