Reference Work Entry

International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

pp 924-928

Law, Foundations

  • Tymen van der PloegAffiliated withUniversity of HeidelbergDepartment of Civil Law, Section Company Law (law on legal persons), VU-University, Faculty of Law


Generally, a foundation can be characterized as an amount of assets managed by an independent management board that is set aside to be used for the interests of those other than the establishers and/or members of the management board. In most countries, this separation of assets from the original owner is specifically recognized when the assets are used for purposes of public benefit. The concept of foundation is connected with the so-called non-distribution constraint, which means that establishers and board members may not receive profit from the foundation.

The legal position of the foundation is different, dependent on the legal family to which the country belongs. In European-continental countries and in former colonies of these countries, foundations are a separate legal person form, which can be distinguished from the other legal form for nonprofit organizations, the associations, by their lack of (voting) members. In the Anglo-American legal family, the f ...

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