Making Law? Parliament v The Charity Commission

Peter Luxton
June 2009
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Charities have long played a vital role in our society so much so that the law has recognised for centuries the benefit they bring to the public. But, says Professor Peter Luxton, in Making Law? Parliament v The Charity Commission, serious confusion has now arisen. Whereas the 2006 Charities Act is true to the historic position, the Charity Commission’s current guidance to charities is not fully in accordance with it.
It is not clear to many charities whether they are bound by the law, e.g., on public benefit as recognised by Parliament, or by the new interpretation given by the Charity Commission. The author considers how these serious problems have arisen and proposes a series of steps to resolve the difficulties. The relevant parts of the 2006 legislation should be replaced by simpler provisions and the structure and membership of the Charity Commission reformed to reduce party political influence on it. A charities' fighting fund could well be needed to enable charities to test the law and, if necessary, challenge the very dubious rulings of the Commission.

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