Charity Commission asks the High Court to rule on initial distribution of money from CharityGiving

Michelle Russell, head of investigations and enforcement, says the regulator is seeking the court judgment in order to expedite the passing of funds to charities

Michelle Russell
Michelle Russell

The Charity Commission has asked the High Court to decide how the first sums of money from the suspended online giving platform CharityGiving should be distributed to charities.

The regulator also said today that it had concluded that there was misconduct and mismanagement at the Dove Trust, the charity that runs CharityGiving, and which is subject to a Charity Commission statutory inquiry.

The regulator appointed an interim manager to the Dove Trust in June and suspended CharityGiving in July in order to protect charity funds.  

It said at the time that the interim manager, Pesh Framjee of Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP, had found that there appeared to be a shortfall between the funds due to charities  to which people had donated through CharityGiving and the cash held by the Dove Trust.

The regulator said today that Framjee estimated that the Dove Trust’s potential liabilities, most of which is owed to charities, totalled about £2.2m. It said that about £500,000 was available for initial distribution to more than 1,800 charities and good causes that are owed money.

It said there were various methods it could use to distribute the funds but, because of the complexity of the charity law involved, it would need the court to decide on the fairest way of doing this.

It said it would apply to the High Court today and ask it to expedite the case so the money could start being handed out as quickly as possible. It said it hoped a directions hearing could take place in January, with a full hearing "early in 2014".

The commission said it would fund the court application and that it was covering the costs of the interim manager’s appointment to ensure that "as much money as possible can go to charities".

The commission also announced that it had concluded that there had been misconduct and mismanagement at the charity and had begun the process of removing Keith Colman, the charity’s founder, as a trustee. It said Colman had resigned before the commission was able to remove him.

Michelle Russell, head of investigations and enforcement at the commission, said if the regulator did not seek the court’s judgment it could create further delays to the distribution of funds to charities from CharityGiving.

"Because of the legal complexities in this case, we have no choice but to seek the court’s decision as to which process must be followed," she said. "We are aware of the awkward timing of this news, but we wanted to let charities know as soon as possible of the court application is being made today."

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