Hospice Aid UK told it cannot appeal charity tribunal decision

Hospice Aid UK has been told it cannot appeal against a charity tribunal decision to strike out its application to force another charity to change its name.

Hospice Aid UK mounted a case in the tribunal against a Charity Commission decision not to ask the hospice support charity Hospice UK to rebrand, saying the similarity between the names was causing confusion.

Hospice Aid UK, which in the year to 31 March 2015 had an income of £647,000 and spent £672,000, first registered with the commission in 2002.

Hospice UK, which in the same year received £6.4m and spent £6.8m, registered as Help the Hospices in 1992 and rebranded in 2014.

Last month, principal tribunal judge Alison McKenna ruled the tribunal had the authority only to make rulings on actions the commission had actually taken, but could not tell it to act when it had not.

Hospice Aid UK, which gives grants to hospices across the UK, then sought permission to appeal the ruling to the Upper Tier Tribunal. But in a judgment published today, McKenna said the charity had no legal grounds to challenge her original decision.

In the hearing on 4 May, Robert Meakin, the lawyer for Hospice Aid UK, argued the tribunal had misinterpreted the Charities Act 2011, which created the tribunal, by ruling it could not compel the commission to act when it had chosen not to.

But in the ruling, McKenna said Meakin had not provided a legal basis for his claims.

"While he states that he does not agree with my view, he has not explained why he considers that it involved an alleged error of law," she said.

The original Hospice Aid UK case had been brought outside the 42-day time limit for charities to challenge a commission decision. But in today’s judgment, McKenna said Meakin had argued the appeal should be allowed because she had been legally wrong not to consider whether to grant the charity a time extension.

McKenna rejected this, saying it had been "clearly proportionate" for her to first consider whether she could legally hear the case before granting extensions and pointed out Meakin had never requested an extension in the first place.

A commission spokesman said: "This is a clear case where the tribunal did not have jurisdiction under the Charities Act 2011. The charity’s remedy would have been to seek a judicial review in the Administrative Court.

"We encourage charities and their advisers to ensure that, if they want to challenge a decision we have taken, they do so on time and in the right court, as made clear in our guidance and correspondence."

No one from Hospice Aid UK or Hospice UK was available for comment.

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