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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Legal update

In light of the High Court ruling of May 2019, please find below some information which may be of assistance.

The Commission’s regulatory work is continuing. While some decisions may be delayed and the volume of decisions made has been temporarily reduced, please be assured that work on applications, requests and queries is ongoing at this time. We apologise for any inconvenience the current situation may cause.

All organisations which have been contacted by the Commission to apply for charity registration must submit their application as normal and by the set deadline.

The legal obligations on registered charities have not changed. All registered charities due to submit their accounts and reports to the Commission must do so by the set deadline, or risk going into default.

All orders and consents which have been made by the Commission remain in place.

If any charity is experiencing difficulty as a result of awaiting a decision of the Commission, please contact the Commission as soon as possible, outlining the issues in detail.

If you have any queries regarding how the High Court ruling may affect an application submitted by your charity, please see the FAQS below. If your query is not answered below, please contact the Commission.

The High Court ruling, which relates to how the Commission makes decisions, is being appealed. It is imperative that the construction of the law is as clear as possible to enable the Commission to undertake its statutory duties and to give charities confidence in the regulator and its powers.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

I have been called forward to apply for charity registration – when can I expect a decision to be made on my application?

The Commission is continuing with its regulatory work, which includes the assessment of all registration applications which have been submitted.

In light of the High Court ruling, there may be a delay in the timescale for receiving a decision from the Commission. However, if you have been called forward to apply for registration by the Commission then you should submit your registration application as normal by the stated deadline.

I am already a registered charity – what does the High Court ruling mean for me?

If you successfully registered as a charity with the Commission then your registration remains in place and you must continue to meet your legal annual reporting obligations, submitting your accounts and reports to the Commission by the set deadline.

Has the ruling had any impact on the register of charities?

The register of charities remains in place, and open to the public as always, and all annual reports and accounts submitted by charities will continue to be published as usual.

Has charity registration been suspended?

The Commission is continuing with its regulatory work, which includes the assessment of all registration applications which have been submitted.

In light of the High Court ruling, there may be a delay in the timescale for receiving a decision from the Commission. However, if you have been called forward to apply for registration by the Commission then you should submit your registration application as normal by the stated deadline.

I have received an order or direction from the Commission – should I comply with it?

Yes. Any orders or directions issued to organisations or individuals must be complied with under the law.

I have submitted a request/application to the Commission’s casework team - what does the High Court ruling mean for me?

The Commission is continuing with all its usual regulatory work, which includes assessing all requests and other casework matters which have been submitted. However, in light of the High Court ruling, there may be a delay in the timescale for receiving a decision from the Commission.

What is the High Court ruling referred to?

The High Court ruling was made on 16 May 2019 and is available here.

ENDS