On 21 December 2011, following the recent ruling by the Upper Tribunal, the Charity Commission published a public benefit guidance update for trustees. The substantive update is not expected to appear in final form (after consultation) until the summer of 2012, but the December update is important in that it sets out which parts of the public benefit guidance have been withdrawn and includes a link to the Commission's interim advice on public benefit which is in question and answer form. Part of the interim advice links through to the hypothetical questions posed by the Attorney General on how charitable independent schools might satisfy the public benefit requirement, and the Upper Tribunal's answers to those questions are helpfully set out in full. The final question posed by the Commission in its advice is "Are there any illustrative examples of how fee-charging charities might make provision for those who cannot afford fees?" and here the Commission has largely rehearsed Annex C from its withdrawn guidance on Public Benefit and Fee Charging. Although this interim advice (including the illustrative examples) may be helpful, it does not constitute formal guidance on public benefit and trustees are therefore not legally obliged to have regard to it. Trustees must however continue to have regard to the public benefit guidance that has not been withdrawn.
The Commission's full update and interim advice can be downloaded by clicking here.
Mike Scott, Partner
Tel: +44 (0)20 7203 5069