Guidance on public benefit by fee-charging charities is withdrawn

Charity Commission move comes after ruling by Upper Tribunal led by Mr Justice Warren

Mr Justice Warren
Mr Justice Warren

The Charity Commission will withdraw its guidance on public benefit for fee-charging charities and several sections of its general guidance on how charities can show they provide a public benefit.

The regulator has agreed to do so after the Upper Tribunal ruled on Friday that it would quash the guidance, removing its legal status, if the commission did not withdraw it.

The tribunal’s decision follows its ruling in October that key sections of the regulator’s guidance on public benefit were "wrong in law" or "obscure".

That ruling came in response to a challenge to the commission from the Independent Schools Council, which argued that the regulator’s guidance was onerous for trustees of fee-charging schools and was based on an incorrect interpretation of the law.

Tribunal judges, led by Mr Justice Warren, told the commission on Friday that it had seven days to decide to withdraw its guidance document Public Benefit and Fee-Charging as well as several sections of its guidance Charities and Public Benefit, including section F11, which explains the principle that "people in poverty must not be excluded from the opportunity to benefit". However, the tribunal said the principle itself would not be withdrawn.

A spokeswoman for the commission said it had set up a working party to "look at revising the guidance as a whole" and would "urgently consider exactly how the guidance will look once the relevant parts have been withdrawn".

The tribunal has also extended until 23 December the period in which the commission and the ISC can appeal against its October verdict.

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