Legal Update: High Court rules on university trust deed

Plus: Charity Commission consults on trustee guidance, the government consults on exceptions to the proposed ban on the use of corporate directors by UK companies, and names and disclosures legislation to come into force, writes Adrian Pashley

Legal update
Legal update

The High Court has ruled on a 1944 trust deed that transferred a collection of books and photographs to the University of London. The court decided that the university must house, maintain and preserve the collection – known as the Warburg Institute – in perpetuity as an independent unit. Although fact-specific, this interesting decision provides helpful analysis of the status of assets held by a charitable corporate body subject to separate or special trusts.

Trustee guidance

The Charity Commission is consulting on an updated draft of its guide to trustees' duties, The Essential Trustee (CC3). The most significant change is clarification of the regulator's expectation that trustees follow good practice standards in the guidance, and the consequences of failing to do so. Charity lawyers might wish to consider whether it's right that failure by trustees to follow good practice should be taken as evidence of misconduct. The consultation closes on 17 February.

Corporate directors ban

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has published a consultation paper on possible exceptions to the proposed ban on the use of corporate directors by UK companies. This is where a "legal person", which can mean a company, is acting as a director rather than as an individual. BIS says a complete exception from the ban for charitable companies would not be appropriate. The consultation closes on 8 January.

Names and disclosures

The new Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 come into force on 31 January. They introduce a reduced list of the sensitive words and expressions for which companies, limited liability partnerships and businesses need approval for use in their names. Terms that no longer require approval include national, European, international and United Kingdom. The draft Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2014 have also been published, and should also come into force on 31 January. These consolidate existing rules on business names and trading disclosures and extend the list of characters that can be used in a company name to include accents, diacritical marks and ligatures.

'No risk' to rate reliefs

The Autumn Statement by the Chancellor, George Osborne, contained little to excite most charity lawyers. Announcements included VAT refunds, an enlargement of the new social investment tax relief and extensions or reiterations of previous Gift Aid developments. However, concern has been expressed that the government's plans to carry out a full review of business rates might undermine existing charity reliefs, although HM Treasury has said that existing charity reliefs will not be at risk.

This column is written by Adrian Pashley, charities editor at Thomson Reuters, Practical Law, on behalf of the Charity Law Association

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