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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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The Charities Bill 2021

The Charities Bill 2021 finished its progress through the Assembly on Tuesday 8 February 2022, and will now go forward for Royal assent, the final stage in the legislative process.

The Commission has welcomed the progress of the legislation, noting that it will effectively reinstate the register of charities and give certainty to charities, the public, funders and others as to which organisations are registered charities in Northern Ireland.

The new Act will make lawful the vast majority of decisions made by Commission staff, just over 7,200 decisions, which include registrations and a range of consents given to charities, such as changes to their governing documents, or permission to carry out certain transactions. The Act will also reinstate the annual reporting obligations for charities registered before May 2019 going forward, and with it the transparency which this reporting provides to the public.

The Act will bring certainty to all those decisions, and reassurance to charities that they can rely upon them and any transactions which have been carried out on foot of such decisions. The safeguards within the Act ensure that additional strain will not be placed on charities and any lingering uncertainty will be lifted.

The Commission is currently developing a series of FAQs aimed at advising charities and the wider public on what the new law will mean for them and the regulation of charities in Northern Ireland as a whole. These will be published on the Commission’s website and kept updated in the coming months.