Statute of Mortmain Law and Legal Definition

Statute of Mortmain or mortmain statute refers to laws that limit gifts and other dispositions of land to corporations. It prohibits corporations from holding land in perpetuity. In England, laws such as the provisions of Westminster and Magna Carta required prior authorization of the Crown before land could vest in a corporation. The purpose of these acts was to prevent lands from being held by religious corporations in perpetuity. In the U.S., even though there was no such restrictions in common law, it has influenced the enactment of certain state laws restricting the amount of property that a corporation could hold for religious or charitable purposes.