Charity Commission will not provide legal help on Age UK situation

Local Age Concerns advised to take legal advice following confusion over merger with Help the Aged

Age Concern store
Age Concern store

An Age Concern run by volunteers has criticised the Charity Commission for failing to provide guidance on the legal implications of deciding not to adopt the Age UK brand.

Age UK, which was formed by the merger of Help the Aged and the national bodies of Age Concern, has invited local Age Concerns to become brand partners and use the new name. But some are resisting and want to retain their Age Concern title.

Such a move could lead to legal action from Age UK - a situation that prompted Barrie Duke, chief officer of Age Concern Okehampton and Torridge in Devon, to seek advice from the commission.

Daisy Houghton, a senior manager at the commission's large charities division, told him in an email, seen by Third Sector, that "it would not be appropriate for the commission to seek to influence the negotiations" and that trustees should seek legal advice.

Duke said his organisation could not afford legal fees and that the commission had opted out of its duty to provide advice and guidance.

He said he was surprised the commission had not considered this issue when it assessed Age UK's application to register its name and was concerned that the commission would refer more charities to solicitors as its funding tightens.

A commission spokeswoman said it did provide advice on charity law, but added: "Because this is a technical issue relating to brand ownership and intellectual property, a local Age Concern charity may need to take specialist advice."

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