Postgraduate Theses

Below are past theses from our postgraduate students:

John Picton ‘Charitable Intention in the Cy-Pres Doctrine and Related Trusts Principles’ Ph.D, 2014

Part funded by a graduate teaching assistantship, this thesis provides the first extended taxonomy of charitable intention in the law of schemes. It does so in order to identify the legal functions of intention and suggest critical doctrinal reforms so that those functions can be better carried out. Where appropriate, it draws on Australasian statutory and common law innovation. It contrasts developments in those related jurisdictions as a reference point for English reform.

Two functions of intention are identified. In the context of established trust reform, intention is one element of a broader process of ‘balanced variation’. The original intention of the donor is balanced against broadly defined effectiveness standards. By contrast, in the context of testamentary construction, intention has a different role. It is constructed simply to make a failed will possible to effect. Reform is desirable in relation to both those functions, and this thesis proposes a series of substantive common law and legislative changes.


Robert Meakin, ‘Limits on the powers of the Charity Commission to remove charities from the register’ Ph.D, 2007

This thesis was published in 2008 by Cambridge University Press, under the title ‘The Law of Charitable Status. Maintenance and Removal’.


Karen Atkinson, ‘Charities and Collaborative Campaigning: Law, Regulation and Practice’ Ph.D, 2007

This thesis, funded by a three-year stipend from the Liverpool Law School, considered the problems (legal and non-legal) which arise in “political” campaigning activity by charities. It also explored the benefits and problems of approaching campaigning through collaborative arrangements. In particular, it considered whether the benefits and problems of collaborative working tend to alleviate or exacerbate the existing difficulties of campaigning work. In light of the problems identified, it also explored potential directions for reform of law, policy and practice. The thesis took a socio-legal approach, combining doctrinal and literature-based analysis of relevant issues with analysis of original empirical data.


David Dennis, ‘The Judicial Control of the Exercise of Discretionary Powers by Charitable Trustees’ LL.M, 2006

This thesis considered the extent to which the courts will seek to control the exercise of discretionary powers by trustees of charitable trusts, the principles upon which that control will be exercised and the wider policy, if any, which underlies those principles generally.  The central contention of the thesis was that the modern case law shows a tendency to abandon the traditional approach of non-intervention in the absence of mala fides (as established by cases such as Gisborne v Gisborne) in favour of emphasising the importance of the fiduciary duy to consider which was explored in McPhail v Doulton and adopting a discretionary approach towards intervention, confining intervention to circumstances where it is necessary to do so in order to secure the due execution and administration of the trust.The thesis also explored how far public law principles such as Wednesbury unreasonableness may have a role to play in this process but concluded that the core principles which govern the supervision of the exercise of discretionary powers, whether in relation to charitable or non-charitable trusts, may all be found in basis trust law principles without recourse to any public law input.


Emma Tommony, 'Charity Trustee Remuneration - The Law and Practice' LL.M, 2003

This work, supported by an LL.M studentship from the Charity Law Unit examined the law and practice in relation to trustee remuneration, and, in particular, the difficulties caused to the concept of a charitable enterprise by the business-like nature of the modern voluntary sector. It considered whether the current law is adequate to meet the needs of the voluntary sector, both from the perspective of legal scholarship and from a small empirical study of charitable organisations in Liverpool.


Helen Brander, 'Who Cares? A Legal Comparison of the Personal Liabilities of Directors of English Charitable Companies and of Vorstandsmitglieder of German eingetragene Vereine Working in the Sector of Care for the Elderly' LL.M, 2001

This piece of comparative research, supported by an LL.M studentship from the Charity Law Unit, examined the nature and effect of personal liability for individuals running organisations dealing with care for the elderly in a common law and civil law jurisdiction. It considered whether one legal system could provide examples of better practice for the other, if the nature of personal liability affected the choice of structure of organisation and whether knowledge of the legal position on personal liability had any effect on provision of services to the elderly.


Nerissa Bradley, 'Once More Into The Wilderness: The Introduction of the GST and its Effect on Australian Charities, in the Light of the VAT Experience from the UK' LL.M, 2001

This research, supported by an LL.M studentship from the Charity Law Unit, examined the basic Good and Services Tax (GST) regime as it affects charities in Australia, and compared it with the VAT regime as it affects charities in England and Wales. The result was to identify potential problems and potential solutions to them for charities in Australia.


Michael Crilley, 'Church & State' LL.M, 2000

This research, involved an assessment of the impact of the Charities Act 1993, and the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law, upon the accounting and reporting practice of Roman Catholic dioceses and parishes, with specific reference to the Archdiocese of Liverpool.


Liz Yates, 'Winding Up and Insolvency of Charities, Including Rescue Mechanisms' Ph.D,1999

This research, partly funded by the P H Holt Charitable Trust, examined the legal and practical problems of winding up and insolvency for charities and considered a number of ways in which property could be preserved for charitable purposes including greater use of local intermediary bodies.


Elizabeth Powell, 'Professional Fundraisers: The Implications of the Charities Act 1992' LL.M, 1999

This research, supported by an LL.M studentship from the Charity Law Unit, involved a detailed consideration of Part II of the Charities Act 1992 supported by empirical work with professional fundraisers. The conclusion of the research is that the legislation is wrongly focused on the contract rather than the fundraiser.


Sinead Lawrie, 'The Legal Structure of Charities. An International Comparison' LL.M, 1995

This research, funded by a studentship from the Charity Law Association, examined the legal structures used by non-profit organisations in Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany. The research is being used as a resource for the new legal structure project.


Peter Somerfield, 'Charities: A French Perspective' LL.M, 1995

This research, partly supported by the Charity Commission, looked at the concept of charity in France. After a brief historical introduction, the legal regime under which non-profit organisations in France was examined and compared with the English regime. The French regime was then placed in the wider context of developments in the European Community.