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Title: The public-private nature of charity law in England and Canada
Author: Chan, Kathryn
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines various aspects of English and Canadian charity law in terms of their relationship with the contested categories of ‘public law’ and ‘private law’. It argues that the law of charities can be regarded as a hybrid legal discipline in both a general or categorical sense, and in the context-specific or functional sense that both the conditions for obtaining charitable status, and the regulation of the conduct of charities and their trustees, are continually being adjusted in such a way as to maintain in a broad sense a functional equilibrium between individual project pursuit and collective project pursuit; that is to say, an equilibrium between the protection of the autonomy of property-owning individuals to control and direct their own wealth, and the furtherance of competing public interests or visions of the good. After sketching out the history and nature of the common law charities tradition and the contemporary English and Canadian regulatory regimes, the thesis pursues its analytical and comparative hypotheses by examining two important features of English and Canadian charity law, the public benefit doctrine and the rules of locus standi that determine who may seek relief for misapplications of charity property. It then addresses the comparatively modern issue of the governmental co-optation of charitable resources, considering to what extent modern pressures associated with the retrenchment of welfare states threaten to destabilize charity law’s hybrid equilibrium in EW and Canada. The thesis then turns to the emerging phenomenon of social enterprise, arguing that shifts to charity law’s functional equilibrium may explain the emergence of this ‘post-charitable’ legal form. The thesis concludes with some observations on the hybrid nature of the law of charities, and on the different functional equilibriums between individual project pursuit and collective project pursuit that have been reached by English and Canadian charity law.
Supervisor: Freedland, Mark R. Sponsor: Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation ; Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law ; Comparative Law ; Equity and the law of trusts ; charity law ; public law-private law divide ; Canada ; England and Wales