Share

Public benefit definition not necessary say charity lawyers

Public benefit definition not necessary say charity lawyers
News

Public benefit definition not necessary say charity lawyers

Governance | Niki May Young | 11 May 2012

There is no need to change the public benefit test used during charity registration, according to charity lawyers Bates Wells & Braithwaite (BWB) in its submission to Lord Hodgson's Charities Act review.

The flexibility of the definition and interpretation of "public benefit" in the current test "is the means by which charity law has developed progressively", the lawyers said in what is believed to be the only submission to Lord Hodgson's review by a legal firm, shared exclusively with civilsociety.co.uk.

"This area is not straightforward," they said, "and while it might seem laudable to have a clear statutory definition of public benefit - nobody has yet been able to come up with a suitable one. The formulation we currently have in the Act which is based on case law is therefore best left as is."

However the amendments to the Charities Act had not been without merit, the lawyers advised: "The Charities Act 2006 certainly refocused attention on public benefit as an issue central to the duties of a charity trustee."

Commenting on the effects of changes to the Charities Act imposed in 2006 that were designed to remove the presumption of public benefit for education, religion or anti-poverty charities, BWB said that it was "difficult to tell" if this had been effective. The lawyers highlighted the disparity between the recent charity tribunal case with the Independent Schools Council where parts of the Commission's guidance relating to fee charging were struck out, and the lack of subsequent revisions to guidance by the Charity Commission

The Charity Commission confirmed that amendments on this matter have not yet been put out for consultation.

Additional charitable areas

Similarly the lawyers believe it is too early to tell whether desired areas of expansion brought in with the Act have been achieved, such as within the charity and sport category, but added that  there are other areas that could be included by clarifying the definition of 'charity'. Social finance could be facilitated as a result, the firm advised, and certain areas of journalism "deserve recognition as charitable objects in their own right," it added. 

While BWB doesn't believe 'public benefit' needs a clearer definition, it does point to contrasting definitions of 'charitable purpose' within the Charities Act 2011 which have yet to be addressed.

"This was identified as an issue during the consolidation exercise leading to the Charities Act 2011, but could not be rectified as it went beyond the remit of the consolidation exercise," it said. "The opportunity should now be taken to remove this anomaly and clarify the drafting for the lay audience."

Lord Hodgson is expected to present his completed review of the Charities Act 2006, which will consider further changes to the legal and regulatory framework for charities, to Parliament ahead of the summer recess this year.

 

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Free eNews

Homelessness charity unveils fundraising app that helps the charity locate rough sleepers

31 Mar 2015

A London-based homelessness charity has launched an app that uses geolocation technology to let people...

Charity Tax Group calls for further postponement of 20 per cent tax on direct mail fundraising

31 Mar 2015

The Charity Tax Group and the Direct Marketing Association have jointly called on the government to again...

Save the Children and RB launch programme to reduce child deaths from diarrhoea

30 Mar 2015

Save the Children and health and hygiene company RB have launched a programme as part of their ongoing...

Election campaigning rules take effect for purdah

1 Apr 2015

Now that Parliament has been dissolved ahead of the general election on 7 May, all charities must make...

CCNI closes investigation into governance concerns at animal charity

1 Apr 2015

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has closed a statutory inquiry which investigated concerns...

Tate Britain director to step down

1 Apr 2015

Penelope Curtis is stepping down from her role as director of Tate Britain in order to become the first...

Homelessness charity unveils fundraising app that helps the charity locate rough sleepers

31 Mar 2015

A London-based homelessness charity has launched an app that uses geolocation technology to let people...

Social media 'slacktivism' encourages people to donate, finds JustGiving report

18 Mar 2015

People who share a fundraising page on social media are four times more likely to donate than those who...

Samaritans closes Twitter monitoring app permanently

11 Mar 2015

Samaritans has confirmed that it has permanently closed its app that was designed to monitor people’s...

Join the discussion

 Twitter button

@CSFinance