Charitable purposes, demonstrable benefit and the role of the Charity Commission: the fourth Pemsel head recast
Keywords:charity, charitable purpose, Charity Commission, Charity Tribunal, public benefit
The Charities Act 2011 requires that charitable purposes must fit within one or more of the statutory descriptions of ‘charity’ and, demonstrably, be in the public benefit. From the perspective of the now dismantled fourth Pemsel head of charity, this article examines the elusive concept of a charitable purpose and the misconceived statutory public benefit requirement. The guidance and decision-making roles of the Charity Commission are appraised and problems in applying the current law exposed. As few charity cases reach the courts or Upper Tribunal, this work analyses the limited, but important, registration appeals that have reached the First-tier Tribunal. It will explore the emerging trends in charity appeals, the divergent approaches adopted by the Commission and the Tribunal and the lamentable degree of unpredictability facing prospective charity trustees. It concludes that an absence of clear-thinking pervades this vital aspect of charity law and invites reworking and revision.