NCVO calls for funding to update public benefit law

The NCVO says a special fund is needed to enable the law on public benefit to evolve.

The umbrella body last week called for changes to the Charities Bill to require the Charity Commission to give as much weight to "modern conditions" as to case law when testing if an organisation provides public benefit.

But it also argues that case law needs updating. A 'suitors' fund' would make public funding available for charities and other parties to bring cases to the courts and the Charity Appeal Tribunal.

The Government has so far opposed the move on the grounds that cases in the public interest would be taken by the Attorney General.

"We believe that there is still the need for additional resources to enable a small number of cases to be taken to the tribunal or the courts independently of government," said NCVO's director of public policy, Campbell Robb. "This would maximise the scope for testing existing case law and ensuring that charity law continues to evolve and maintain its relevance over time."

Last week Third Sector combined a story about the NCVO's position on the Charities Bill with news of the Directory for Social Change calling for a definition of public benefit to be written into the Bill. We accept that it may have left readers with the impression that the NCVO has changed its position on the Charities Bill and would like to reiterate that its policy - that public benefit should be defined by case law and in the light of modern conditions - has not changed.

- See Politics, p12.

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