BWB Highlights

As you will know, yesterday the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s ruling that Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the European Union.  See today’s briefing for a link to the full judgment.

In the last two weeks BWB has hosted two packed seminars looking at the impact on charities of the recent ICO fines.  If you were not able to make the seminars, you can see the slides here.

At a glance

The Charity Commission has issued a statement about settlement of the litigation involving Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Britain.

The Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Act has received Royal Assent.

The Department of Health has published updated terms and conditions for NHS bodies procuring goods and services from commercial organisations.

The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by a wheelchair user, finding that a bus operating company had not made reasonable adjustments to avoid disadvantaging passengers who were wheelchair users, in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Charity Commission

Watch Tower (Jehovah’s Witness case)

The Commission has issued a statement about settlement of the litigation involving Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Britain. This is the case where the Commission opened a statutory inquiry to investigate how the charity safeguards children and adults at risk. The charity challenged the Commission’s decision to open a statutory inquiry in a number of courts, but this challenge was concluded in July 2016 when the Supreme Court refused to grant the charity permission to appeal further. As part of the inquiry, the Commission issued a Production Order under section 52(1) of the Charities Act 2011, requiring the disclosure of documents that the Commission considered were relevant to the inquiry. The charity challenged the Commission’s Production Order by way of judicial review and in March 2016 the Court of Appeal decided that the application should be heard by the Administrative Court rather than the First-tier Tribunal. The Administrative Court was due to hear the charity’s challenge to the Production Order, following the Supreme Court decision in July 2016.

The Commission has said that charity has now provided a response to the Production Order by making certain documents available for inspection by the Commission and, since the Production Order was issued, the Commission has obtained additional information from the charity and other sources. The Commission has therefore decided to revoke the Production Order and the charity has agreed to withdraw its application for judicial review. A Consent Order has been made by the Administrative Court to conclude the proceedings.

The Commission says it will continue to work with the charity to establish the facts and understand the charity’s safeguarding policy, procedures and practices in order to explore the issues that are the subject of the ongoing statutory inquiry and address the Commission’s regulatory concerns.

New inquiry

Third Sector is reporting that the Commission has opened an inquiry into Surrey Canal Sports Foundation, which it says is the charity at the heart of a controversial £1bn development scheme involving a compulsory purchase order of land around Millwall Football Club’s ground in London. The article says that the charity has claimed it received a £2m funding pledge from Sport England, which has been denied by the funder and also that there has been criticism of the development from local residents and politicians who have been warning that the proposals may force Millwall FC to leave the area. There has been no official comment about the inquiry from the Commission.

Reminder to submit annual report and accounts

The Commission has issued a reminder to charities with a financial year ending 31 March to submit their annual report or accounts by the 31 January deadline.

Warning about sham appeals

The Commission has issued a regulatory alert warning the public about sham charity appeals, with specific reference to “fake animal charities overseas” and a “fake migrant helpline”.

CC Board

Civil Society has reported that William Shawcross has responded to criticism from members of the Lords Select Committee about the lack of diversity on the Commission’s Board. William Shawcross’s comments were contained in supplementary evidence to the committee which was published this week.

Charity law cases

See the Watchtower case under Charity Commission above.

In the First Tier (Charity) Tribunal, Leeds Cat Rescue has been unsuccessful in its appeal against the Commission’s decision not to order another charity to change its name. 

A new appeal has been filed by Support the Heroes. No details given.

Tax and VAT

The Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Act has received Royal Assent.


Miller case

The full Supreme Court judgment in the Miller case can be found here.

Brexit plan

In her keynote speech, Theresa May confirmed that MPs and peers are to get a vote on the final Brexit deal. She also confirmed that Britain will leave the single market, and backed a “phased process of implementation”. 

Human Rights, Equality and Discrimination

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has stated that it is “hugely concerned”, warning that triggering art 50 could result in a surge in hate crime.


Fundraising training

DCMS is seeking a partner(s) to provide subsidised fundraising training to small, local charities and community groups.  

Also see under Data Protection below.

Social finance

On 16 January 2017, HM Treasury published a revised draft legislative reform order on proposed amendments to the Limited Partnerships Act 1907 in respect of private investment funds, such as venture capital and private equity funds. The government has concluded that it is appropriate to proceed with the proposals set out in the order, which would establish the private fund limited partnership (PFLP) as a new form of limited partnership.

Access confirms first investment into frontline organisation

Pioneers Post reports that the first funding from Access, the government-backed foundation for social investment, has reached the frontline. Access, which has a wholesaler rather than direct funding role, provided £5.5m funding from its £45m Growth Fund to Key Fund’s Northern Impact Fund in October 2016. The first investment from the Northern Impact Fund has now been confirmed as £20,000 for IntraQuest, a training and therapy community interest company (CIC) based in Greater Manchester. The support is made up of a loan of £16,600 and a grant of £3,400 to help working capital costs and grow turnover.

UBS commits US$5bn in private capital to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Development Finance reports that international financial services company UBS will channel US$5 billion in private capital towards projects linked to the SDGs over the next five years. At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 in Davos, UBS launched a white paper entitled “Mobilizing Private Wealth for Public Good”, which analyses some of the areas private wealth could have the biggest impact in support of achieving the SDGs. The paper offers recommendations of how international institutions can make it easier for private investors to contribute to annual investment needs of US$5 trillion to US$7 trillion, which according to the think-tank the Brookings Institute is the amount needed to finance the SDGs until 2030. In 2016, UBS raised US$471 million for its Oncology Impact Fund, a cancer research fund from which royalties partially fund children’s cancer care in developing countries.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association has published a revised version of its Corporate Governance Policy and Voting Guidelines.

Also see under Scotland below.

Social enterprise

Lord Victor Adebowale CBE has been named new Chair of Social Enterprise UK. 

The shortlist for the 2017 Social Value Awards has been announced.

Children's services

During the House of Commons Committee stage that concluded last week, the Government was able to reinstate the provisions of the Children and Social Work Bill that would allow the Secretary of State to exempt particular LAs from child protection legislation while trialling innovative new models of delivery for their Children’s Services functions.   The key safeguarding duties have now been carved out so that LAs cannot be exempted from those duties at all and requires a lot more consultation and oversight.  See here for a briefing written by BWB's Emma Dowden-Teale.


Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, spoke last week about the role of education in removing obstacles to social mobility.  She also announced the expansion of the opportunity areas programme to a further 6 areas across England, along with a new £3.5 million programme that will see the Education Endowment Foundation establish a research school for each of the 12 opportunity areas.

The Secretary of State for Education has made the Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/9), which define "coasting schools" for the purposes of section 60B of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006) and section 2B of the Academies Act 2010. The regulations came into force on 11 January 2017, following the full commencement of section 1 of the Education and Adoption Act 2016, which inserts section 60B into the EIA 2006 and provides for intervention into "coasting" maintained schools.  

The House of Commons Library has published an updated briefing paper on Grammar Schools in England.


BWB’s Neil Lambert has written this blog looking at the impact of the Brexit vote and recent deals in the sector. 

Museums and galleries

Grants totalling £4 million have been awarded to improve displays and facilities at museums and galleries across England.  The grants, jointly funded through a partnership between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Wolfson Foundation, will be used for renovation and improvement projects in 39 museums and galleries.

International development

BOND has published this blog about 6 ways to start tackling corruption in aid.


See under Brexit above.

The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by a wheelchair user, finding that a bus operating company had not made reasonable adjustments to avoid disadvantaging passengers who were wheelchair users, in breach of the Equality Act 2010. The case arose from the refusal of a passenger with a pushchair to give up a wheelchair space in favour of the wheelchair user.  For comment from the Equality and Human Rights Commission see here

Also see under Northern Ireland below.

Data protection

A Bognor Regis firm, IT Protect Ltd has been fined £40,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for calling people registered with the Telephone Preference Service.  It is the first fine for nuisance calls issued by the ICO since it took over management of the TPS.

In relation to the General Data Protection Regulation, the ICO has published:

  • This blog about what the ICO is doing to help organisations prepare
  • This speech by the Information Commissioner about the role of accountability in the GDPR.

The Phone-paid Services Authority has published clarification that a text sent to a consumer's mobile phone following the consumer's mobile number being entered into a website must include pricing and other key information. Marketers should ensure that premium rate services providers they use comply with the rules.

The European Commission has published a draft E-Privacy Regulation (COM(2017) 10 final) which is intended to replace the current E-Privacy Directive (2002/58/EC). The E-Privacy Directive concerns the protection of privacy and personal data in the electronic communications sector. It was recently reviewed with a view to bringing it up to date and to align e-privacy laws with the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (GDPR), further to providing a complete legal framework for privacy and data protection under the Digital Single Market Strategy. The draft regulation provides for various enhanced privacy measures, including in relation to user consent, confidentiality of electronic communications, website cookies and unsolicited electronic communications. It also introduces an enforcement regime aligning with the GDPR, including significant fines for breaches.


The Information Commissioner has published a decision notice finding that NHS Improvement could rely on section 31(1)(g) (prejudice to the exercise of a public authority's functions) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in order to withhold requested information arising from an inquiry into a tender for primary medical care services.  

The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) has held that North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) could not rely on the exemption in section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (personal information) and was required to disclose a draft investigation report concerning a councillor's alleged breach of the NNDC code of conduct.  

Procurement and state aid

See first item under Information above.


OSCR has published a blogpost on Social Investment. 

OSCR has welcomed a significant increase in use of its online services, OSCR online, which it says has risen to 95% from 14% this time last year.

OSCR has published a video explaining how to raise a concern with the regulator about a Scottish charity.

Northern Ireland

CCNI has reminded charities to stay within the law on political activity and campaigning in the run up to the Assembly Election in the province on 2 March.

The Northern Ireland Historical Abuse Inquiry has published its report. The principal recommendations are:

  • that survivors of abuse, including in homes or institutions not covered by the Inquiry, and relatives of abused persons now deceased, should be compensated;
  • that a permanent memorial to the victims should be erected at Stormont;
  • that survivors should receive a public apology;
  • that a commissioner be appointed for survivors of institutional abuse; and
  • that specialist care and assistance be put in place, tailored to needs of victims.

On the subject of compensation, the Inquiry concluded that it should not be paid to individuals simply because they were resident in an institution in which abuse was found. However, it recommended that some children who were not themselves abused but subjected to the ‘harsh’ atmosphere of being surrounded by abuse should be compensated.

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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 25/01/2017 in Legal Updates

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