Consolidated charity law to wait until after election

Concern over 'glaring omission' of fundraising provisions

The plan to combine all the main elements of charity law in a single, user-friendly statute has been put on hold until a new Parliament has been elected.

The Office of the Third Sector published a draft bill for consultation in September last year. This combined most elements of the Charities Acts 2006 and 1993 and the Recreational Charities Act 1958.

The OTS had hoped to finalise it during the current Parliament, but it has now announced that this is not possible because of a lack of parliamentary time.

"We will shortly publish the summary of responses along with the revised draft of the bill and will work with the Law Commission to get it through in the next session," said an OTS spokesman.

Charity lawyers have criticised the draft bill for omitting the sections of the 1992 and 2006 Charities Acts that relate to fundraising. The Government's consultation said this was because the provisions on fundraising did not apply solely to charities.

But a Charity Law Association working party, chaired by Chris Priestley of Withers solicitors, described the fundraising provisions as a "glaring omission" and said the argument for excluding them did not pass "the common sense test".

In its response to the consultation, which closed in December last year, law firm Bircham Dyson Bell said the omission could fuel fears that the public collections provisions in the 2006 act would never be enacted.

"It underlines an impression that legislation relating to fundraising and charitable collections is the 'ill-favoured child' of charity legislation," the submission said.

It also called for the regulations on charitable incorporated organisations, redrafted versions of which are due to be released by the OTS soon, to be consolidated. "If the consolidation proposed is the full extent that will be offered, we question if it is worth doing at all," it says.

Nicola Evans, a senior associate at Bircham Dyson Bell, said she welcomed the OTS's decision to postpone the bill. "I hope the OTS will make constructive use of the additional time to ensure it is a truly comprehensive consolidation of charity law, with the benefits that would bring," she said.

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