Some lawyers criticise timing of bill to consolidate charity law

Nicola Evans of Bircham Dyson Bell says it should wait until after the Charities Act review, but Lord Phillips of Sudbury says it should go ahead now

Nicola Evans
Nicola Evans

The bill that will consolidate several pieces of charity law has come under criticism from some charity lawyers.

The Office for Civil Society announced on Friday that it had put the Charities Bill before the House of Lords.

The draft bill includes law from the Recreational Charities Act 1958, the Charities Act 1993 and the Charities Act 2006, with the exception of part 3 of the 2006 act, which would make the Charity Commission the lead regulator of public charitable collections. This section has not been activated.

Nicola Evans, a senior associate at the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, said "I'm not clear how it will make charity law simpler. It might need to be amended almost immediately, because the Charities Act 2006 will be reviewed this year."

Julian Smith, a partner at Farrer & Co said the bill was worthwhile, but was appearing at the wrong time: "It's not a bad thing to do, but I would prefer them to have done it after they'd reviewed the Charities Act.".

But the senior charity lawyer Lord Phillips of Sudbury said the bill was a positive step. "If you waited for the perfect moment to consolidate the acts you could wait forever," he said.

"If there is any change in the law as a result of the review of the Charities Act, it would happen only after long consultation with the charity sector," he said. "We might have to wait two or three years."

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Farrer and Co

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