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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer

Charity Law

Charity Law

This is an industry in itself. Charity law is a massive subject in its own right, overlapping significantly with company law, trusts law and tax law. The basic motivator of the charity law industry is tax avoidance.

The role of charity law as an element of the traditional legal system, and as a commodity, is illustrated by the cost of charity law textbooks, for example:

Picarda, Law and Practice Relating to Charities: £325

Who’s Who in Charities £257

Luxton, Law of Charities £225

Charity Market Monitor £370

Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations A Reference Handbook £205

Top 3000 Charities £280

Law of Charities in Ireland £120 .

Charity law reflects the institutionalisation of philanthropy as part of the edifice of English property law. The complexity of charity law, and its close relationship with tax and company law, reflects an increasing reliance on “charity” as the gains made by the welfare state are rolled back.

English charities are granted fiscal privileges by the law. These privileges are not universal but are granted to selected charities, for example Eton College, the British Goat Society and the British Society of Dowsers. Charitable status is withheld from organisations aimed at changing the law.

The key to understanding the true role of charity law is that it provides for tax exemptions. As with most other issues surrounding the English legal system, the answer is money.

Charity, it has been commented, involves the expectation of gratitude and admiration for the giver and the stigmatising status for the receiver of being a beggar. These concepts have no place in relationships based on social and economic rights rather than vague moral obligations on the part of the haves towards the have-nots.

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