Fondsretten og den levende vedtægt: Fortolkning og ændring af fondsformålet

Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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The dissertation – titled Foundation Law and The Living Charter – contains an analysis of Danish foundation law  on  purpose  and  objective  in  Danish  foundations  covered  by  the  foundation  acts,  touching  on  two  connected research questions: 1) Is it possible – based on the legal framework and practice – to identify methods and factors for interpretation of Danish foundations’ charters (by‐laws) and, if so, which methods and factors? 2) What is settled/prevailing law in terms of the purpose amendment threshold, and which factors are permissible or mandatory in the application of the purpose amendment threshold?
Danish tax regulation and the rules on protection of the purpose – rules on governance, investment, audit etc. – are only briefly touched on. In part one, I comment on scope and decisions on selection, followed by considerations on legal method and legal theory relevant for foundation law and the two research questions. Inspiration is drawn from Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish foundation law. Besides analyzing the Danish legal framework on foundations in part two, I identify the characteristics of the interpretation and application of Danish foundation law.
In  part  three,  answering  the  first  research  question,  I  consider  which  interpretive  methods  or  tools  one  should or must apply whilst reading the purpose expressed in the foundation’s charter (by‐laws). With the governing board bound by the text, words are to be understood in their everyday meaning, unless the context indicates another sense. The authorities perform a legality review and do not review the reasonableness of the discretionary decisions made by the board. As a starting point, the words in the foundation’s charter must be given the meaning they had when the text was adopted. Meaning may change over time, but as a main  rule,  the  fixed  meaning  principle  applies.  Thus,  as  a  main  principle,  the  original  understanding  and  intentions of the founder outlines the activities in the foundation throughout its existence. What the founder expressed after or before setting up the foundation has relevance only in extremely rare instances, as the law in Denmark protects the founder’s will and intentions expressed in the charter.
Answering the second research question in part four, I discuss the threshold on amending the purpose in the foundation’s charters (by‐laws) and the application of the threshold. After careful deliberation, I find that the purpose  amendment  threshold  is  either  impossibility  or  compelling  reasons,  which  establish  that  the  intentions behind the current purpose are truly difficult or otherwise unreasonably hard to fulfill (kvalificeret uhensigtsmæssighed).  Categorizing  and  extensively  discussing  the  permissible  and  mandatory  factors  involved in this assessment, I go through a high number of cases from the Danish authorities issuing administrative decisions on foundation law. While generally recognizing the legality and appropriateness of the  current administrative  practice,  I  do  however  criticize  certain  elements  in  the  approaches  from  the  foundation authorities and recommend three specific changes within the existing legal framework. The changes  would  provide  further  flexibility  for  the  foundations  and  governing  boards,  but  with  adequate  respect for the founder’s intentions.
In  part  five,  after  a  summary  of  the  conclusions  and  deliberations  on  the  occurring  tension  between  respecting the founder’s intentions and the need for a certain level of flexibility, I find the existing law and present‐day application of the law sufficiently flexible and protective of the different interests in foundation law.  However,  this  conclusion  is  with  the  exception  of  a  few  elements  in  purpose  amendment  practice.  Additionally, I recommend in detail four specific changes to the Danish foundation acts. The recommendations would potentially lead to better framework conditions for the foundations.
Original languageDanish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages337
ISBN (Print)9788775680818
ISBN (Electronic)9788775680825
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesPhD Series

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