Revised Charities Bill should produce a clearer legal framework - say Shoosmiths

March, 2022 - Milton Keynes, England

An expert in charity law at leading law firm Shoosmiths has welcomed changes to the Charities Bill, claiming they will “make life easier for hard-pushed charities and their trustees in the aftermath of a global pandemic.”

They will also “address technical issues that have diverted resources away from charitable activities” and provide “a clearer and less bureaucratic framework”, says Robert Nieri, a charity law specialist at the firm.

MPs completed their consideration of the Charities Bill last week, an uncontroversial Law Commission-inspired bill to reform and simplify charity law.

The bill is accepted by all across the political spectrum and by the Charity Commission and receives its third reading in the House of Commons today, after completing its passage through the House of Lords.

Robert Nieri said: “Some legislation doesn’t change the world. It just makes life easier.

“This is what the Charities Bill - about to complete its passage through Parliament - will do for trustees of charities, addressing technical problems in various areas of charity law that have caused difficulties and diverted resources away from charitable activities.

“The changes are detailed but should produce a clearer and less bureaucratic legal framework, in particular when charities are changing their governing document, or buying or mortgaging land. The bill should receive Royal Assent very soon, before being introduced on a phased basis later this year.”

Robert added: “Charities have had plenty of practice exercising patience so far; waiting a few more months for the changes shouldn't make much difference. The issues addressed by the bill were first identified by Lord Hodgson's review of charity legislation nearly ten years ago, when he likened them to unnecessary burdens on trustees that ‘act like barnacles on a boat, causing a drag when all should be plain sailing’.

“Hopefully fewer barnacles will mean less hassle, time and legal expense for hard-pushed charities and their trustees, especially for smaller organisations, as they cope with the additional demands the pandemic and its aftermath have brought."