BWB highlights

Lord Hodgson has published his independent review into the Lobbying Act. See today’s Briefing for comment from Simon Steeden who advised Lord Hodgson. BWB has also prepared a detailed briefing in relation to the Charity Commission's new guidance concerning the EU Referendum. BWB is calling for the guidance to be amended and/or clarified. See below for more information.

The BWB Briefing will take a break next week and return on 5th April.

At a glance

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 received Royal Assent last week.

The Fundraising Standards Board has published an adjudication against RSPB in relation to a complaint from a donor who had asked not to be contacted again.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has announced a number of changes to regulation in Scotland which will take effect from 1 April 2016.

Charity Commission

New online registration application form

The new application form for charity registrations is now up and running.  

Jehovah’s Witnesses judgment

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Great Britain v. Charity Commission. The Administrative Court had previously refused the appellants permission to apply for judicial review of the Commission’s decision to open an inquiry under s. 46 Charities Act 2011 and the Commission’s issuance of a Production Order under s. 52 Charities Act 2011 on the basis that the appellants should have instead appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).  The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal in relation to the decision to open an Inquiry, agreeing that the correct arena for an appeal was the FTT, but allowed the appeal in relation to the Production Order because the particular wording of s. 320 Charities Act 2011 meant that the FTT could not address the appellants’ complaint that the Production Order was unlawful.  The Charity Commission’s reaction to the judgment can be found here.

Double Defaulter Inquiry Report

The Commission has published its latest Inquiry Report into a “double defaulter” charity, this time Mesifta Talmudical College (312905). As a result of the Inquiry, the charity has submitted its outstanding annual accounting information.

Joint portal for HMRC/CC applications

Civil Society Media reports that Budget documents released by HMRC include that a new system to enable charities to register with HMRC and Charity Commission at the same time has been delayed until April 2017.   

EU Referendum and Lobbying Act

Many charities will be aware that the Charity Commission issued new guidance on 7 March for charities wishing to engage with the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. BWB has been advocating that the Commission should issue new guidance in this area for several months, to resolve some of the ambiguities contained in the existing guidance.

BWB has prepared a detailed briefing on our analysis of the new guidance and the underlying law providing our interpretation of the guidance for consistency with the underlying law and other relevant Charity Commission guidance. The briefing is intended to help charities navigate these issues in planning any engagement with this important cross-generational debate that they might feel is necessary to support continued delivery of their charitable purposes. BWB is calling for the guidance to be amended and/or clarified.

Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016

This received Royal Assent last week.  For a summary of the Act see this BWB Briefing.


The Institute of Fundraising and Public Fundraising Association have taken the next step to completing their planned merger.   

The Fundraising Standards Board has published an adjudication against RSPB in relation to a complaint from a donor who had asked not to be contacted again.  FRSB did not uphold the complaint but criticised RSPB for failing to keep adequate records of the donor’s original complaints.  See here for the full adjudication report and here for FRSB’s covering press release.  


Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts has published his independent review into Part 2 of the Transparency in Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014. Government has described Lord Hodgson’s recommendations as providing “a structure for open, vigorous debate, whilst providing disclosure and transparency to give citizens confidence in the integrity of our electoral system”.   Also see this written statement laid before Parliament by the Minister for Constitutional Reform.  

For comment from BWB Partner Simon Steeden who advised Lord Hodgson, see here.

Social investment

See here for a further blog in the series about the gritty reality of social investment.

Social enterprise

See comment on the budget from Social Enterprise UK.


See this press release about the Education White Paper published last week.

The Department for Education has published a consultation on its proposals to introduce a national funding formula for schools.   

Contract law protection for micro businesses

BIS has launched a consultation on measures to protect micro businesses (those with 0-9 staff, including sole traders) in non-regulated sectors when purchasing goods and services from other businesses.   The consultation identifies three options to help micro businesses better understand their legal rights and redress options, and BIS is seeking views on each option:

  • Using the Small Business Commissioner (which will be established through the Enterprise Bill) to provide general advice and information to help small and micro businesses better understand their rights when purchasing goods and services, and to direct them to appropriate dispute resolution services).
  • Publishing guidance for businesses on how to deal with micro businesses. The guidance may be statutory or non-statutory and could include advice on simplifying contracts or negotiations and dispute resolution options.
  • Requiring businesses to provide pre-contract information when dealing with micro businesses (similar to the information provided under the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/3134)) such as main characteristics of the goods and services, price and charges and details of the trader.

The consultation closes on 9 June 2016.  


“Targeted Regulation” programme

A number of changes have been announced to regulation in Scotland this week which will take effect from 1 April 2016.  These are discussed in the most recent OSCR blog by Jude Turbyne, OSCR’s Head of Engagement. The changes are as follows:

  • Risk Framework – OSCR has published its new “Targeted Regulation” Risk Framework OSCR has said that this is because it is now in a position to develop a more focused approach to charity regulation and that it is seeking to target its resources at groups and types of charities that are more likely to pose a risk to public trust and confidence in the charity sector, and reduce reporting for most types of charities in Scotland. 
  • New Guidance on Notifiable Events – From 1 April, OSCR is asking charities to inform the regulator about “Notifiable Events” which is similar to serious incident reporting in England & Wales. Notifiable Events are described as events that have a significant impact on the charity.  The OSCR guidance includes a table of the sorts of events OSCR regards as potentially significant with accompanying commentary. 
  • Publishing charity accounts – OSCR has announced that it will start publishing charity accounts on the Register of Scottish charities from 1 April. They will start with the reports and accounts of charities with an income of £25,000 and over, and all SCIOs. OSCR will redact personal and sensitive information before the accounts are published. In addition, where a charity's accounts are already published the charity’s website, they can share the link with OSCR on the Annual Return form and the link will be published on the Register. 
  • New Annual Return – OSCR has reminded Scottish charities that there is a new annual returnasking different questions which can be found here; guidance is available here.

Charities SORP FRS102 Update Bulletin

OSCR has had a number of queries asking if the Update Bulletin can be adopted early but has reminded Scottish charities that early adoption is not permitted in Scotland. In Scotland, the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (as amended) ('the Regulations') refer to the specific SORP in issue and prohibit early adoption.

Stephen Lloyd Awards 2016

Last week to apply to the Stephen Lloyd Awards!

With only 3 days to go, the 2016 Stephen Lloyd Awards will close for application entries on Friday 25 March 2016.  We are encouraging anyone, or any organisation, with an innovative idea seeking to address a problem systemically to apply. The aim of the awards, in line with Stephen’s own approach, is to help create success by finding and nurturing innovative ideas and projects that can lead to practical, sustainable social change. The awards committee is particularly interested in supporting ideas that address social problems at a systemic level.

Applications should be emailed

For more information about Stephen Lloyd Awards or specific guidelines for the application process, please visit the website at Stephen Lloyd Awards.

New from Get Legal

Data Protection Policy now available

Data protection has become a spotlight issue for the third sector in recent months. Complying with data protection law is a legal requirement – if you are concerned your charity or social enterprise needs a policy or a policy refresh, visit Get Legal for a fully-compliant and bespoke document tailored to your specific needs.

Our short-form data protection policy is ideal for organisations who need a simple policy setting out what steps they take to comply with the law. Click here to view the document, priced at £36. Once the document is downloaded, our system will guide you through a detailed question-and-answer process to create a document bespoke to you.

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Posted on 23/03/2016 in Legal Updates

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