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Charities Act 2006

Commentary on Sections

Section 9: Registration of Charities

46.Section 9 substitutes three new sections – 3, 3A and 3B – for existing section 3 of the 1993 Act. New section 3 deals with the register of charities, which the Charity Commission must continue to keep. Section 3 prescribes the content of the register and the circumstances in which the Commission must or may remove charities, or institutions which are no longer considered to be charities, from it.

47.Section 3A prescribes the requirements for the registration of charities, making different provision for different descriptions or classes of charity.

48.Section 3B deals with the duties of charity trustees in connection with registration.

49.Sections 3 and 3B in effect reproduce, in a new structure, provisions of existing section 3. The registration requirements in section 3A represent a substantial change by comparison with the registration requirements in existing section 3.

50.Section 3A begins (subsection (1)) with the general rule that every charity must be registered. Subsection (2) then provides that four classes or descriptions of charity (specified in paragraphs (a) to (d) of that subsection) are not required to be registered. These are:

  • (paragraph (a)) exempt charities. The institutions specified in Schedule 2 to the 1993 Act are not deemed or confirmed by that Schedule to be charities but, so far as they are charities, they are exempt charities. Section 11 of the Act (see below) makes amendments to Schedule 2;

  • (paragraphs (b) and (c)) charities – usually known as excepted charities – that are excepted either by order made by the Charity Commission (paragraph (b)) or by regulations (paragraph (c)). In a change to the existing position, under which no excepted charity is required to register, an excepted charity will be required to register if its gross income exceeds £100,000;

  • (paragraph (d)) charities whose gross income does not exceed £5,000. This financial threshold is designed to release the smallest charities, defined by their income, from the registration requirement; currently the equivalent threshold is £1,000. At the same time the requirement in existing section 3, that a charity must register if (regardless of the level of its income) it possesses a permanent endowment or uses or occupies land, is not being retained and will therefore no longer apply. The combined effect of raising the threshold and not retaining that requirement is to release several thousand small charities from the duty to register. However, such charities may (subsection (6) of section 3A) register if they wish.

51.In subsection (3):

  • paragraph (a) preserves the effect of excepting orders made by the Charity Commission under the existing law; and

  • paragraph (b) prevents the Commission from making an order to create any new exceptions after the commencement date.

52.Subsection (4) makes similar provision in relation to charities excepted by regulations made by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, except that it requires him to make regulations which have the effect of excepting from the registration requirement those formerly-exempt charities whose income does not exceed £100,000.

53.Subsections (7) and (8), read together, allow the Minister for the Cabinet Office by order to:

  • reduce the annual income threshold applying to excepted charities – set by the Act at £100,000 – above which such charities will be required to register; or

  • alter the minimum registration threshold – set by the Act at £5,000 – below which any charities are not required to register.

An order reducing the threshold applying to excepted charities can be made only after the report on the operation of this legislation has been laid before Parliament, as specified in Section 73.

54.Section 3B reproduces the existing law on the duties of trustees in connection with registration.

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