Charity Commission ponders appealing tribunal decision on Annuity Helpline

The regulator refused to add the organisation to the charity register, but the tribunal has given helpline more time to appeal against the decision

Commission: considering its own appeal
Commission: considering its own appeal

The Charity Commission is "strongly considering" whether to appeal a decision by the charity tribunal that gave an organisation more time to appeal against the rejection of its application for charitable status.

Stephen Hunt, founder of the pension advice service the Annuity Helpline, appealed to the tribunal against the commission’s refusal in August to add it to the charity register.

The appeal was questioned by the regulator, which said that Hunt had filed his application more than 42 days after being notified of the commission’s decision – the usual time limit for appeal applications.

But the tribunal ruled last month that Hunt should have 42 days from the date the commission published its decision, not the earlier date when he was told the result by the regulator.

The tribunal found that although Hunt was the main correspondent for the application, the decision did not relate to him personally, so the 42 days should run from the publication date.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "Although decisions of the First-tier Tribunal don’t set legally binding precedents, we do think the decision is wrong in law and could send a confusing message to potential appellants.

"We are therefore strongly considering asking the tribunal to review its decision and seeking permission to appeal it."

In his ruling, Judge Jonathan Holbrook said: "The question of whether the appeal was made in time is a jurisdictional one and is for the tribunal to determine."

He said that because the appeal had now been deemed to have been made in time, the Charity Commission needed to file a response.

Third Sector was unable to contact anyone from the Annuity Helpline for comment.

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