The Charity Commission (‘the commission’), the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has today launched a 3 month public consultation on its proposed approach to exercising the new power of discretionary disqualification. This power will allow the commission to disqualify certain persons from being trustees in circumstances where they are judged not fit to act, for a period of up to 15 years.
The new power, which was included in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 and will come into effect in July, will support the commission in its regulatory work in upholding public trust and confidence in charities.
In a consultation paper published today, the commission sets out its approach and the factors it will take into account before making a disqualification order, together with the protections for individuals affected and the important safeguards that exist in law.
The commission welcomes comments from charities, professional advisers, members of the public, other regulators or public bodies (particularly those that exercise similar powers) and those with an interest in the charity sector on its proposed approach to using these new powers. In particular it invites comments on:
- the factors that the commission will take into account when deciding whether the tests set out in the Charities Act have been met
- its approach to deciding on the length of the disqualification
Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission, said:
This is an important new power, given with a clear mandate by Parliament. It will help the commission to protect charities and uphold public trust and confidence by preventing individuals who, due to their conduct, are judged unfit to be trustees of a charity. However, it is a significant new power and it is important that our approach is set out clearly and understood by the sector. We hope that charities, professional advisers and other interested parties will respond to our consultation to further inform that approach.
The full consultation questions and online form to complete the consultation are published on GOV.UK. The consultation closes on 22 August 2016 at 5:00pm.
Notes to editors
- The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. To find out more about our work, see our annual report.
- Search for charities on the online register.
- Details of how the commission reports on its regulatory work can be found on GOV.UK.
- The implementation plan for the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 was published by the Cabinet Office last week. This sets out the timetable and commencement dates for each provision. The commission published an accompanying blog.
- A number of safeguards are in place with regards to the use of this power. Before an order is made, there will be a notice period in which the individual will be able to make representations to the commission contesting its decision. Individuals will also have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Charity) (‘the Tribunal’) if a disqualification order is made. The question will be looked at afresh by the Tribunal.
- This is a new power distinct from existing provisions where some people are automatically disqualified from being trustees. The automatic disqualification provisions are extended in the new Act and this will come into effect in April 2017.
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