A Bill is currently moving through the British Parliament, which
proposes amending the Charities Act 1992 (UK) and the
Charities Act 2011 (UK) to alter the powers of both
charities and the UK Charity Commission. It includes the power to
prohibit individuals with "extremist" views from holding
controlling positions within charities. With counter-terrorism
being at the forefront of both public and political debate at the
moment, it is possible that Australian lawmakers may look towards
these proposed amendments.
Three of the major changes proposed by the Bill are:
The power of the Charity Commission to remove trustees who were
responsible, knew contributed, or facilitated the misconduct or
mismanagement of a charity;
The power of charities to make "social
investments", defined by the Bill as an act
"carried out with a view to both:
Directly furthering the charities purposes; and
Achieving a financial return for the
The power of the Charity Commission to "disqualify
individuals whose conduct makes them unfit to be a charity
The amending Bill is the result of recommendations made by the
National Audit Office to "tackle abuse of charitable
status" and the "calls for stronger
powers" made by the Prime Minister's extremism
taskforce and the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The Bill is supported by the UK Charities Commission.
Furthermore, in a draft Home Office counter extremism strategy
obtained by the Daily Telegraph it is reported that
"once the legislation is enacted, the Charity Commission
will take action against all trustees who met the definition of
extremism". The strategy defines extremism as
"the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British
values including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and
the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and
believes". While the Bill contains no explicit reference
to "extremism", the Daily Telegraph claims that
"[a] number of aid charities", "several
mosques" and "[s]ome private Muslim
schools" may fall within the definition of
A number of concerns have been raised about the changes proposed
by the Bill:
Firstly, as Baroness Barker has articulated, there is
"the potential chilling effect that it may have on people
who work within Islamic charities". Baroness Barker has
also argued that the clause which empowers the Charity Commission
to examine a trustee's conduct, which is "not limited
in time" or "just their conduct within a
charity", is "drawn too widely".
Furthermore, as Frank Cranmer has pointed out, determining what
qualifies as "extremism" will be "to
some extent at least, a matter of judgment".
Finally, as Scott Taylor has identified, some people are
"concerned" that the Charity Commission's
power to remove trustees "could be misused", and
have "called for appropriate safeguards to protect against
the potential for abuse of this power".
Do not depart from the contract terms, or encourage the other party to do so, unless you plan to alter the contract.
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