Charity, Politics and Neutrality

The Charity Law & Practice review, Volume 18, 2015

34 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2016

See all articles by Adam Parachin

Adam Parachin

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 15, 2015


Although the common law of charity has long since distinguished charity from politics, the leading authorities say surprisingly little about the substance of the charity – politics distinction. Instead, the charity law doctrine of political purposes has been rationalised around an appeal to the ideal of neutrality. Political purposes are effectively purposes in relation to which courts posit that they must remain neutral as to the presence or absence of public benefit. On this logic, political purposes fail to qualify as charitable not because they are specifically found to lack the character of charitable purposes but rather because the assessment of one of the prerequisites for charitable status - public benefit - is intentionally left incomplete. This is a seriously flawed approach to distinguishing charity from politics. Neutrality has no useful role to play in the interpretation of charity generally or in the demarcation of charitable and political purposes specifically.

Keywords: charity, charitable, purposes, advocacy, political, human rights, neutrality

JEL Classification: L38, K34, K39

Suggested Citation

Parachin, Adam, Charity, Politics and Neutrality (January 15, 2015). The Charity Law & Practice review, Volume 18, 2015. Available at SSRN:

Adam Parachin (Contact Author)

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Law ( email )

London, Ontario N6A 3K7 N6A 3K7

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