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Charities Act 2006

Commentary on Sections

Section 8: The Charity Tribunal

42.Under the existing law, a right of appeal to the High Court exists in relation to some decisions of the Charity Commissioners. This section creates a new tribunal to act as the “court of first instance” for appeals and applications in respect of certain decisions of the new Charity Commission. It also enables the Tribunal to consider matters referred to it by the Attorney General or, with the Attorney’s consent, by the Charity Commission, the reference being made before the Commission has made any decision on the matter.

43.Subsection (1) of section 8 provides for a new Part 1A of the 1993 Act to be inserted after section 2 of the 1993 Act. Part 1A contains new sections 2A to 2D covering, respectively, the creation of the Tribunal; its practice and procedure (which provides (section 2B(1) to (9)) for the matters to be covered in the Lord Chancellor’s rules which would regulate the exercise of the right of appeal or to make a reference to the Tribunal and practice and procedure); appeals from the Tribunal to the High Court; and the powers of the Attorney General to intervene in proceedings before the Tribunal, or on appeal from the Tribunal to the High Court, where he is not a party to those proceedings.

44.Subsection (2) of section 8 gives effect to Schedule 3, which inserts the new Schedule 1B into the 1993 Act. Schedule 1B covers the membership of the Tribunal and appointments to it; its staff and facilities; the composition of its panels, who are to exercise its functions; and its practice and procedures.

45.Subsection (3) of section 8 gives effect to Schedule 4, which inserts the new Schedules 1C and 1D into the 1993 Act. Schedule 1C provides for specified rights of appeal to the Tribunal against specified decisions of the Commission, prescribing, in the case of each specified decision, which persons have the right of appeal and what powers the Tribunal has in relation to the appeal or to the Commission’s decision or action which is the subject of the appeal. The powers of the Tribunal are set out in the table in new Schedule 1C. The Commission would be the respondent to such an appeal. In certain cases the Tribunal would consider applications to review matters (being those listed in paragraph 3 of Schedule 1C) in the same way as the High Court would consider an application for judicial review. Those reviewable decisions are listed in paragraph 3(2)(a) to (g), along with orders made by the Commission under section 69(1) of the 1993 Act (paragraph 3(2)) which are also reviewable. Schedule 1D makes provision for references to the Tribunal. The Commission (paragraph 1) will be able to refer to the Tribunal matters involving the operation or the application of charity law relating to its functions. The Attorney General (paragraph 2) will be able to refer to the Tribunal questions involving the operation or the application of charity law. The Commission would require the consent of the Attorney General to make a reference. Schedule 1D makes further provision in respect of such references, including;

  • the powers of the Commission in relation to matters referred to the Tribunal;

  • the suspension of time limits whilst a reference is in progress;

  • enabling the Commission to act before the Tribunal has made its decision if all the parties to the proceedings, and any charities likely to be affected by the Commission’s action, agree that the Commission can act;

  • rights of appeal in respect of matters already determined on reference to the Tribunal.

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