Feb 4, 2020
In episode 65, we chat to John Picton from the Charity Law &
Policy Unit at the University of Liverpool about charity law and
the ethical and legal challenges surrounding certain kinds of
charitable donations. Including:
- What are some of the key principles of UK charity law? (e.g.
public benefit, charitable threshold etc.)
The “Dead Hand” & Cy Pres
- Why have some critics argued that perpetually endowed
charitable institutions are problematic?
- What does legal theory have to say about the balance between
respecting donor intent and avoiding “zombie” trusts?
- What is the practical process for freeing up money from an
endowed structure whose purposes are no longer deliverable? How
difficult is this?
- What is the legal status of charitable gifts made in wills?
When heirs challenge donations, what issues does it raise?
- Why are some donations seen as “tainted”? What is it about them
that is “bad”?
- What powers and responsibilities do charity trustees have when
it comes to assessing whether or not to accept a donation?
- Is it possible to give donations back? Or is this harder in
practice than you might think?
- Can charities keep donations on the basis of “turning them to
good purposes”? If so, how do they ensure the donor doesn’t get
benefit (e.g. social status, reputation, warm glow)?
- Should there be any sort of statute of limitations on tainted
donations (e.g. those stemming from proceeds of slavery etc)?
- If institutions have assets that are tainted and want to do
something about it, is it enough to give them to any “good cause”,
or do they need to be directed at a cause related to the nature of
the taint? (I.e. is it a case of making reparation?)
Nationalising charitable assets?
- There have recently been proposals that the charitable assets
of private schools should be seized by the government, and similar
ideas have been floated in the past. Is this feasible in practice?
Are there broader issues of principle in terms of charity law?
Academia & Practice
- How well does academia informs practice (and vice versa) when
it comes to philanthropy?
- Where might there be gaps?
- How can we getter stronger links between academics and