Research Handbook on Not-For-Profit Law
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Research Handbook on Not-For-Profit Law

Edited by Matthew Harding

This Research Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of scholarship on not-for-profit law. The chapters, written by world leading experts, explore key ideas and debates in relation to: theories of the not-for-profit sector, the composition and scope of that sector, not-for-profit organisations and the constitution, the legal conception of charity, the tax treatment of not-for-profit organisations and the regulation of not-for-profits. The book serves to represent not-for-profit law as a field of academic inquiry, and to point the way to future research in that field.
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Chapter 13: The history and future of the law of charity

G E Dal Pont


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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