Regulating Egoism in Perpetuity

Debates in Charity Law (Oxford, Hart, 2020) 53

44 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2021

Date Written: April 1, 2020


While ordinary trusts are time-limited, the charitable foundation lasts forever. It is, in consequence, a perpetual legal vehicle through which a donor might seek to egoistically project her character and values into the future after her death. Unfortunately, that self-serving drive leads to bad charity, causing waste, as it crowds out higher social utility – or altruistic – uses of capital. Through attention to the concept of egoism, as it has developed in contemporary donative economics (‘egoistic theory’),this chapter explores the nature of the motivation to create perpetual foundations, and, flowing from that theorisation, it then critically develops a policy justification for the protection of the donor’s plans (plan-protection), alongside development of a legal-conceptual method for the utility-orientated reform of foundations.

Keywords: charity, egoism, perpetuity, cypres

Suggested Citation

Picton, John, Regulating Egoism in Perpetuity (April 1, 2020). Debates in Charity Law (Oxford, Hart, 2020) 53, Available at SSRN: or

John Picton (Contact Author)

University of Liverpool ( email )

School of Law and Social Justice
Liverpool, L69 7ZR
United Kingdom

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