First draft scheme under new CCNI cy-près powers involves redirecting a bequest in a will

The Northern Ireland regulator has invited comments on its plan to direct money bequeathed to a defunct charity to a similar one instead

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
Charity Commission for Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has made its first scheme since gaining cy-près powers last year to ensure money bequeathed in a will to a defunct charity can instead go to a similar one.

The will of Sarah Winifred Hamill of County Down, who died in 1988, bequeathed one-eighth of her residual estate to the Ulster Vegetarian Society in the event that her son Alfred died childless. Alfred died last year, without children.

But the sum of £10,783.15 cannot be paid to the society because it no longer exists.

Instead, the trustees of the will suggested donating it to the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom. The CCNI published a draft scheme to authorise this on 1 August.

Interested parties are asked to make any comments on this before 31 August, which the regulator will consider before publishing the finalised scheme on its website.

In 2013, the CCNI gained what are known as cy-près powers. Deriving from an Old French phrase roughly translating to "as near as possible", this allows property or assets to be applied to a cause that is similar to the one designated, if it cannot go to the originally intended destination because of a change of circumstances.

Before the regulator gained these powers, charities needed to go to the High Court or the Department for Social Development to seek such schemes, resulting in greater costs to the charity, according to a CCNI statement,

Frances McCandless, chief executive of the CCNI, said: "As well as working to resolve the issue of the bequest, the publication of our first draft scheme also marks another step forward in the development of the commission as Northern Ireland’s charity regulator."

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