Sometimes charities need to adapt the way they operate to reflect changes in society or the context in which they work.
Some charities may have the power in their governing document to make changes, while others may be able to use specific provisions set out in the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (as amended). Otherwise, it is necessary to apply to the Commission to request a scheme.
A scheme is a legal document, made by the Commission, which changes, replaces or extends the trusts of a charity. Under section 26 of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008, the Commission can make a scheme to change the purposes of a charity where the current purposes:
• can no longer be carried out, or not in the way laid down in the governing document;
These seminars will be delivered by the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland.
• have been fulfilled or adequately provided for in other ways, such as out of public funds;
• do not provide a use for all of the charity’s income or property;
• use outdated definitions of areas, places or classes of people;
• have ceased to be charitable in law;
• have stopped being a useful way of using the funds or property, such as providing for very small payments or gifts of food or fuel to beneficiaries;
• where two or more charities with similar purposes want to merge but do not have the legal power to do so.
Where the Commission applies property for alternative purposes, it must apply the legal doctrine of cy-près as well as ensure that the alternative takes account of the ‘spirit’ of the existing purposes and of current social and economic circumstances.
This seminar will look in detail at the law behind cy-près and provide an overview of the Commission’s processes when considering a request for a scheme.