Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Murray, Charity Law and Accumulation: Maintaining an Intergenerational Balance

image from assets.cambridge.orgIan Murray (University of Western Australia) recently published Charity Law and Accumulation: Maintaining an Intergenerational Balance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). Here's a description of the book: 

Much has been written in charity law on the type of benefits that charities can provide (charitable purposes) and who such benefits must be directed towards (the public benefit question). Much less has been written about when those benefits must be provided. However, accumulation of assets by charities raises profound ethical, economic and social considerations, that are highlighted by the present retreat of the welfare state and the on-going impact of the Global Financial Crisis and COVID-19. In particular, how should the public benefits produced by charities and affected by accumulation be shared between different generations? It is, after all, inherent in the notion of accumulation, that the delivery of some benefits will be deferred. Which generation(s) should decide that allocation of benefits? Might the decision-making discretion afforded to charity controllers over accumulation and the allocation of benefits increase agency costs and so reduce the level of public benefit achieved?

This book analyses these issues through a normative, doctrinal and comparative analysis of the legal constraints upon accumulation by charities. It reveals that the legal restraints contain significant gaps in relation to the intergenerational distribution of benefits and to the balance of decision-making between generations. In particular, the book asserts that, to fill those gaps, there is room for law reform to better identify and incorporate principles of intergenerational justice into the regulation of charities. The book makes this theory and its practical application accessible to readers without specialised training in political philosophy and economics. The book also explains to those steeped in political philosophy and economics (but not law) why it is there are issues and how they can start thinking about law reform.

Samuel D. Brunson


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