Alison McKenna was appointed the first president of the Charity Tribunal in 2008, having qualified as a barrister in 1988.
She has extensive experience in the charity sector, previously holding the role of partner and head of the charities department at Wilsons.
She has also worked as a legal adviser for the Charity Commission and the Registrar of Criminal Appeals.
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The Charity Commission has provided some clarity as to the timeframe for charities planning to appeal its decisions to the Charity Tribunal.
The review of the Charities Act should re-examine the way that Attorney General’s references play out in the sector, according to Charity Tribunal president Alison McKenna.
The Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit inevitably leads it to “second-guess and micro-manage trustees” about how to run their charity, in a way that is contrary to the law governing the regulator’s role and remit, tribunal judges heard this morning.
Two of the three tribunal judges that will hear the case on public benefit of independent schools were themselves privately educated, but do not think that private schools are the “best thing since sliced bread”, lead judge Mr Justice Warren said today.
Judge Alison McKenna runs through the ins and outs of the judicial process in relation to the recent public benefit review of independent schools.
Alison McKenna, the principal judge of the Charity Tribunal, has attacked the preference of many charity lawyers to settle disputes through the Charity Commission’s internal review process rather than through the Tribunal, saying it adds unnecessary expense for the charities involved and thwarts the original intent for the Tribunal to help evolve case law.
With the completion this month of the charity tribunal’s third case, in which two residents of Dartford in Kent appealed against the Charity Commission’s response to an illegal sale of charitable land, the tribunal finds itself with just one new case pending, and even that may be withdrawn after the Commission overturned its original decision. A good time then to reflect upon its progress so far and what may lie in store. Civil Society spoke to the tribunal’s principal judge Alison McKenna for her reflections on a year-and-a-half at the helm.
Charities should have their say on tribunal reform, says Alison McKenna. Over the past year the Charity Tribunal has appointed and trained a cadre of specialist legal and ordinary members who have the expertise and experience to hear charity cases. Now, we have the opportunity to adapt the rules and procedures of the Tribunal to fit with the unique sector it serves and I want your help.