Edited by Matthew Harding
Chapter 13: The history and future of the law of charity
This chapter argues that notwithstanding the great expansion over the years in the numbers of organizations recognized as charitable, the categories of charitable purpose in contemporary charity law remain largely what they were in 1601 when the preamble to the Statute of Elizabeth was promulgated. The chapter focuses in particular on the fourth ‘head’ of charity as described in the seminal nineteenth century case of Commissioners for Special Purposes of Income Tax v Pemsel – ‘other purposes beneficial to the community’ within the ‘spirit and intendment’ of the Elizabethan preamble. The chapter argues that the categories of purpose recognized as charitable under the fourth ‘head’ have remained remarkably stable across the centuries, and that this stability persists notwithstanding recent legislative restatements of the legal definition of charity across the common law world.
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