Modernising Charity Law
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Modernising Charity Law

Recent Developments and Future Directions

Edited by Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Kerry O’Halloran

In recent years the pressure for charity law reform has swept across the common law jurisdictions with differing results. Modernising Charity Law examines how the UK jurisdictions have enacted significant statutory reforms after many years of debate, whilst the federations of Canada and Australia seem merely to have intentions of reform. New Zealand and Singapore have begun their own reform journeys. This highly insightful book brings together perspectives from academics, regulators and practitioners from across the common law jurisdictions. The expert contributors consider the array of reforms to charity law and assess their relative successes. Particular attention is given to the controversial issues of expanded heads of charity, public benefit, religion, competition with business, government participation and regulation. The book concludes by challenging the very notion of charity as a foundation for societies which, faced by an array of global threats and the rising tide of human rights, must now also embrace the expanding notions of social capital, social entrepreneurism and civil society
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Chapter 8: Religion as a Head of Charity

Brian Lucas and Anne Robinson


Brian Lucas and Anne Robinson This chapter proposes to deal with four questions: (1) why was the advancement of religion included as one of the heads of charity? (2) can religion be conceptualised as part of charity other than by tradition? (3) why should it continue to be included as one of the heads of charity? A subtext of these questions is: is it time to reform the religious head and strip back its privileges? So we might propose that the fourth question is: (4) should religious institutions be given special tax treatment? ISSUES IN DEFINING RELIGION AS CHARITY Definition of terms, not least legal terms, is an entirely purposive exercise. In other words, words are never defined for their own sake; they are attributed meaning for a specific reason and for specific contexts. In Australian common law, in much the same way as in the United Kingdom, the definition of the term ‘charity’ has come from three main applications.1 1. There are those cases where it was necessary for the court to determine the existence of a charitable trust because if they were not charitable they would be void, offending the rule against perpetuities; related to these were other cases where it was necessary to determine the charitable status of institutions to which gifts were given. The term ‘charity’ and ‘charitable’ have been used in statutes (largely in the context of taxation and rate relief) without definition, so it has been necessary to resort to the judicial definitions. The...

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