Charitable organisations receive a number of benefits and both for this reason and because they are often entrusted with donations by members of the public and others, they are subject to regulation and monitoring.
The Charity Commission is the government agency entrusted with ensuring that Charities comply with the legal obligations imposed by Charity Law. The Charity Commission tends to adopt a supportive role to Charities who are having difficulties with, for example, minor questions of compliance or “low risk” issues but have extensive investigatory and other powers where their concerns are more serious. Serious matters include cases where there has been financial loss or where there is a likelihood of damage to public trust and confidence in charities generally, financial loss to the intended beneficiaries of the charity concerned or criminality.
The Charity Commission may institute a formal inquiry into the affairs of a charity to ascertain the facts and whether there has been mis-management or criminal acts. The Commission has the power to demand that charities produce documents, file accounts and that representatives of the charity attend to be formally questioned.
The Charity Commission may make emergency orders including suspending the appointment of trustees or services of particular employees of the charity, seizing property and vesting it in the name of the Official Custodian or directing Trustees to preserve assets.
The Charity Commission also has a wide range of permanent powers including removing trustees, members, officers or employees, directing trustees to take specific actions, to enter premises (having first obtained a warrant) to seize documents or to direct that a charity be wound up.
Decisions of the Charity Commission can in some circumstances be appealed or reviewed, before the Charity Tribunal. The Tribunal has the power to make Orders for costs.
Lawson Lewis Blakers are able to offer specialist advice in relation to all issues of Charity Law.