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Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008

Background and Policy Objectives

3.This Act provides a definition of “charity” and “charitable purpose”, establishes the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) and the Charity Tribunal for Northern Ireland, creates a register of charities, provides for a new form of charitable legal body (a charitable incorporated organisation) and deals with the regulation of charities, their assets and public charitable collections.

4.In March 2004 the Department for Social Development (“the Department”) established an Advisory Panel to consider the advantages and disadvantages relating to various options including the retention of the present Northern Ireland system and a move to a system of wider supervision. The Advisory Panel recommended that a system similar to that for England and Wales should be adopted for Northern Ireland with three significant differences. First, the introduction of a public benefit test to determine whether technically a charitable purpose actually produces a benefit to the public. Second, all charities operating in Northern Ireland should be registered (there should be no exemption of certain types of charity as in other jurisdictions). Finally, it was intended to apply different financial thresholds in terms of the accounting procedures and audit requirements placed on charities operating in Northern Ireland.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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