Charity Commission's guidance on fee-charging charities 'contains errors of law'

Newly published details of application for judicial review by the Independent Schools Council says regulator's advice is flawed

High Court
High Court

The Independent Schools Council has told the High Court it believes the Charity Commission's guidance on public benefit for fee-charging charities contains "important errors of law which lead to very significant practical consequences".

In its application for a judicial review of the commission's guidance on public benefit, which has been published on the tribunal's website, the ISC says it wants the tribunal to rule on whether fee-charging charities must ensure that those who cannot afford the fees can still access some of the benefits they provide.

The ISC believes a fee-charging charity could satisfy the public benefit requirement by offering its services to "a section of the public representing an appreciably important class of the community, upon payment of its fees", the document says.

It says the ISC also wants the tribunal to rule on whether fee-charging charities must allow those who cannot afford the fees to have direct, subsidised access to the charity's core services.

In October, the ISC was granted permission for a judicial review of the commission's rules on public benefit for charities that charge fees. The case will be heard by the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery) at the Royal Courts of Justice this May.

It will be heard alongside a reference by the Attorney-General, Dominic Grieve, which asks the commission to provide details of how its public benefit guidance will apply to fee-charging independent schools.

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