Scheme aims to unlock £10,000 donation
A bequest to the obsolete Ulster Vegetarian Society is the focus of the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s first scheme, which proposes transferring a donation of over £10,000 to a similar charity.
The draft scheme, the first since the Commission gained what are known as ‘cy-près’ powers last year, is concerned with a £10,783 bequest that had originally been left to the Ulster Vegetarian Society.
However, as the Society is no longer in existence, the Commission has made a draft scheme proposing to transfer the funds to The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, for use in Northern Ireland.
Frances McCandless, Commission Chief Executive, commented: “We are delighted that we are in a position to publish the first draft scheme we have made, which is open for comment on the Decisions of the Commission section of our website now.
“The scheme was drafted to allow the donation to be transferred to a charity with similar purposes working in Northern Ireland, in keeping with the donor’s original intentions.
“As well as working to resolve the issue of the bequest, the publication of our first draft scheme also marks another step forward in the development of the Commission as Northern Ireland’s charity regulator.”
The draft scheme was published on the Decisions of the Commission section of the Commission's website on 1 August 2014, with interested parties invited to make comments on the draft before the deadline of 31 August 2014 (30 calendar days).
Any comments received will be considered by the Commission before the draft scheme is made final. The finalised scheme will also be published on the Commission’s website.
Prior to the Commission adopting cy-près powers last year, charities had to go to the High Court to seek schemes where the value of the property to be transferred exceeded £50,000, or to the Department for Social Development where the value did not exceed that amount.
Applying to the Commission for a scheme will protect the value of the charity’s assets as the costs will be considerably reduced, when compared to applying to the High Court.
For further information on cy-près schemes, including the Commission’s guidance on when and how to request the Commission make a scheme, please visit the Requesting a scheme page.
Notes to editors
The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland. It was established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.
Cy-près is a legal term meaning “as near as possible”. A cy-près scheme or “scheme” is a legal document made by the Commission which changes, replaces or extends the trusts of a charity.
Section 26 of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 sets out the circumstances in which the Commission can make a scheme to alter the original purposes of a charitable gift, for example where the original purposes:
- can no longer be carried out, or not in the way laid down in the governing document
- have been fulfilled or adequately provided for in other ways, such as out of public funds
- do not provide a use for all of the charity's income or property
- use outdated definitions of areas, places or classes of people
- have ceased to be charitable in law
- have stopped being a useful way of using the funds or property, such as providing for very small payments or gifts of food or fuel to beneficiaries
- where two or more charities with similar purposes want to merge but do not have the legal power to do so.
Where the Commission applies property for alternative purposes, it must apply the legal doctrine of cy-près as well as ensure that the alternative takes account of the ‘spirit’ of the existing purposes and of current social and economic circumstances, where appropriate.