The time limit to appeal against a Charity Commission decision should be restricted to 42 days after the appellant was informed of the decision rather than the date it was published, a judge has ruled.
The upper-tier tribunal upheld a Charity Commission appeal against the first-tier tribunal’s ruling that Stephen Hunt should be allowed to challenge the commission’s refusal to add the Annuity Helpline to the register of charities.
Hunt applied to convert the helpline into a charitable incorporated organisation in August, but the Charity Commission rejected the application, saying it was not satisfied the CIO would be a charity at the time of registration.
Hunt appealed to the tribunal, but the commission argued that the appeal came outside the 42-day time limit for filing.
In November, the first-tier tribunal ruled Hunt was not out of time because the appeal had been submitted less than 42 days after the decision had been published.
The first-tier tribunal’s ruling has now been overturned by the upper-tier decision, published today.
In the judgment, Judge Nicholas Warren said he had no doubt that the general regulatory chamber rules should be interpreted to mean "an applicant for the constitution and registration of a CIO, who has been served with notice of a decision of the commission refusing their application, must bring an appeal within 42 days of the notice".
He said: "As a matter of principle, it cannot, in my judgment, be correct that such a person can simply delay bringing an appeal and seek, subsequently, a further 42 days if and when the decision is placed on the commission’s website."
He pointed out that starting the 42-day countdown from the date of publication meant the clock would never start running at all in cases where the decision was not published.
Warren also ruled that if Hunt wished to pursue his appeal he would have to request an extension from the first-tier tribunal.
A commission spokesman said the decision was "a sensible approach" to the time-limit rule.
"Our concern was that the approach taken by the first-tier tribunal would mean that there was an unlimited time period for challenging some of our decisions, creating uncertainty for our regulatory case work and the charities concerned," he said. "This decision confirms that the 42-day time limit applies."
Hunt was not available for comment.