The Charity Commission will have to stagger its charitable incorporated organisation registration process to avoid being swamped by applications, according to its head of legal services.
Kenneth Dibble outlined the commission’s planned approach during a question-and-answer session at the Charity Law Association annual conference yesterday.
The much-delayed new legal form, which is expected to be available from early 2013, will allow charities to enter into contracts as corporate entities with limited liability for trustees and members. Charities taking up CIO status would not need to register with Companies House or be subject to company law, and would still be registered with and regulated by the Charity Commission.
Dibble said that from the beginning of next year the commission would start accepting CIO registrations from charities with annual incomes of at least £5,000 that are not currently registered as charities. From next March, he said, it would begin to accept dissolutions of existing unincorporated charities with incomes of more than £250,000, followed by registrations from organisations with incomes of between £100,000 and £250,000 from May.
Applications from unincorporated charities with incomes of £25,000 to £100,000 will be able to register from July and those with incomes of £5,000 to £25,000 from October.
"If the floodgates open at the beginning of next year the commission is going to be swamped, or is likely to be swamped," said Dibble. "Our view is that we have to structure the applications, otherwise we will not be able to effectively carry out our registration services."
Secondary legislation required to make the CIO status legal is expected to be laid before parliament before the end of the year.
David Robb, chief executive of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, said that the experience of CIOs in Scotland, where it has already been introduced, had been broadly positive. He said that 38 per cent of all new applications to it last month had been for CIO status.