Charity News: Charity law reform
In our last edition we reported on the reforms set out in the Charities Bill 2021. This legislation has now completed its parliamentary journey, becoming the Charities Act 2022.
To recap, this new legislation (which only applies to England and Wales) implements a number of recommendations from the Law Commission’s 2017 Technical Issues in Charity Law Report which seek to make life easier for trustees and help them to maximise the benefits that their charity is able to deliver. The principal reforms seek to:
- Make it easier to amend a charity’s governing documents
- Simplify and add greater flexibility for charity’s entering into land transactions
- Changes to the regulations governing permanent endowments
- Allowing trustees to be paid for goods provided to a charity in certain circumstances
- Relaxed rules around making ex gratia payments without prior CCEW approval
- Removing some of the legal barriers to charity mergers
Although the Act came into force on the day it received Royal Assent, 24 February 2022, to be able to deliver these reforms requires a number of changes to CCEW’s systems and processes along with secondary legislation, and a plan is in place to gradually implement these between now and Autumn 2023.
Separately, the Dormant Assets Bill has also now received Royal Assent, becoming the Dormant Assets Act 2022. This expands the existing dormant assets scheme to include the insurance, pensions, investments, wealth management and securities sectors, looking to raise an estimated £880 million for good causes. Although the scheme operates across the UK, a consultation process will be launched this summer to consider what additional causes in England will be able to benefit from the scheme.
Receiving Royal Assent on 30 March The Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 has now come into force. This legislation has been introduced in response to a Court of Appeal ruling in 2020 that found that decisions made by CCNI staff were unlawful. The Act will make lawful over 7,200 decisions which had been made in good faith by CCNI staff, and will effectively reinstate the full register of charities and provide certainty as to which organisations are registered charities in Northern Ireland. It will also improve transparency by reinstating annual reporting by charities.
Separately an independent review of charity regulation in Northern Ireland has now been completed, making 93 recommendations on changes that could be considered to improve the delivery of services by CCNI and the operation of the regulatory framework. The Department for Communities is considering the recommendations and will publish its response in due course.
Our full Charity Newsletter can be found here.