Scottish Government consults on five options to change appeals system

After hearing only one case in three years, the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel is to be abolished

The Scottish Government is consulting on five options to replace the Scottish Charity Appeals Panel, which is being abolished after hearing only one case in three years.

The Scap was established in October 2006 by the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and was expected to receive between 50 and 100 appeals a year against decisions by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. But the Scottish Government decided more than a year ago to abolish it after it had heard only one case in its first two years. None has been lodged since.

"The low number of appeals received to date means that a standalone charity appeals body is no longer justified, particularly in the light of current pressures on public spending," the consultation document reads.

The Scottish Government is considering a number of alternative appeal routes: the Court of Session, similar to the High Court in England and Wales; the Sheriff Court, similar to English county courts; a separate structure within the OSCR; and a new body created by a merger with another tribunal body.

The fifth option would be to leave the issue to be considered as part of a review of the Scottish tribunal system, to be carried out in the summer. This would require an alternative short-term appeals route to be agreed because the Scap will be abolished later this year by the Public Service Reform Bill, which is currently going through the Scottish Parliament. The consultation runs until 5 April.

The English charity tribunal, which is budgeted for 50 cases a year, has heard three cases since it was launched in March 2008. One case is currently lodged.

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