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 10: Modernising Charity Law: Steps to an Alternative Architecture for Common Law Charity Jurisprudence

Matthew Turnour


Matthew Turnour INTRODUCTION This chapter addresses the question, how can the common law concept of charity law be modernised? There are difficulties with the present jurisprudential conception. The focus of the chapter is not on those difficulties, however, but rather on the development of an alternative architecture for common law jurisprudence. The conclusion to which the chapter comes is that charity law can be modernised by a series of steps to include all civil society organisations. It is possible if the ‘technical’ definition of charitable purpose is abandoned in favour of a contemporary, not technical concept of charitable purpose.1 This conclusion is reached by proposing a framework, developed from the common law concept of charities, that reconciles into a cohesive jurisprudential architecture all of the laws applying to civil society organisations, not just charities. In this section, first the argument is contextualised in an idea of society and located in a gap in legal theory. An analogy is then offered to introduce the problems in the legal theory applying, not just to charities, but more broadly to civil society organisations. The substantive challenge of mapping an alternative jurisprudence is then taken in steps. The final substantive section conceptualises the changes inherent in a move beyond charities to a jurisprudence centred on civil society organisations and how this would bring legal theory into line with sectoral analysis in other disciplines. Social Context Dissatisfaction and frustration with the doctrine of charitable purpose as it is presently applied is of such a magnitude...

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