chapter  3
25 Pages

The common law: The emergence of principles, structures and legal functions relating to charities

In all common law countries, the roots of the current jurisdiction in relation to charities, their property and activities, lie in the ancient parens patriae responsibilities of the Crown.1 The inherent obligation resting on the King of England to safeguard the interests of wards and lunatics extended also to charities. The essentially protective nature of this jurisdiction, illustrated most clearly in the exercise of wardship, has always guided the judicial approach towards charities and their activities. Grafted onto the common law, the law relating to charities transferred with the armies of the Crown to all parts of the British Empire.