The entire focus of the Act was to streamline the way in which charities are regulated and to ensure that the operations of the Charity Commission, the body responsible for charity regulations are as smooth and as efficient as they can possibly be. On the whole this is a positive step forward for charities and their trustees.
In Section 2 of the Act the charitable purposes are defined and whilst they largely follow the previously accepted charitable purposes the definitions are much clearer. Therefore provided the charity falls within one of these purposes and is for a public benefit it is, prima facie deemed to be a charity.
A clear shift in regulation can be seen by the fact that the Charity Commission was reformed to be a body corporate known as The Charity Commission of England and Wales. Due to its corporate nature it is now able to be much more flexible and adaptable in its decision making approach. It will critically be a non ministerial government body ensuring independence. There is an appeal structure in place and the Charity Commission as it is now structured feeds into the attorney general ultimately. The Charity appeal tribunal can ultimately be appealed to the high court. Areas that can be subject to review can be found in the 1993 Act and include issues such as those relating to property. The Lord Chancellor has the ultimate authority to alter the way in which the tribunal works and makes its decisions.
As part of its new role the commission will have a much greater independent influence on the way in which the government makes decisions about charity regulation. It is a key role of the newly established charity commission to look at ways in which the overall dealing with charities can be dealt with in a more streamlined way and with full importance given to the way in which society develops over time.
Under Section 13 there are Principle Regulators who will work with the commission to deal with those charities that do not have to be registered. Any body that retains an exempt status will have a principle regulator allocated to them and these will attempt to ensure compliance with the charity law as far as is possible. Typical examples of this include Industrial and Provident Societies. Small charities, i.e. those with a gross turnover of less than 5000 are also exempt from the registration obligation.
Several processes have been made less time consuming and less costly during the Act. For example under the 1993 Act it was necessary for charities receiving funds from unknown donors to go through court proceedings to get the donors officially designated as unidentified. Section 16 of the Act gives this power to the commission thus removing the need to go through the expense and time of going to court to achieve the same result.
In many cases the changes are simply an addition to existing regulations. For example when it comes to giving extra guidance to charities and trustees approaching the commission for such guidance, the commission have been given a much more influential role. Under section 29 of the 1993 Act trustees were allowed to ask for written advice. This has been extended under the section 24 of the 2006 Act this has been extended to allow the commission to give advice in relation to the administrative running of