Essentials of a charity
Essentials of a charity

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Essentials of a charity
  • Defining a charity
  • Institution
  • Charitable purposes and High Court control
  • Charity characteristics
  • Perpetuities
  • Cy-près doctrine
  • Purposes
  • Trustees

NOTE: Save as where it may otherwise be stated, the law referred to in this Practice Note applies to England and Wales only.

There is no simple method of identifying a charity. Some will be registered by the Charity Commission but many will not.

Defining a charity

A starting point is the statutory definition which defines a charity (for the purposes of England and Wales) as:

‘an institution which (a) is established for charitable purposes only, and (b) falls to be subject to the control of the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction with respect to charities.’

Consequently, in order to be a charity there must be:

  1. an institution

  2. established for charitable purposes

  3. subject to the control of the High Court

As can be seen there is no mention of 'registration' and this is because registration is neither a characteristic nor a requisite of being a charity. Indeed, there are financial and other restrictions on the right of charities to register:

  1. a non-charitable incorporated organisation charity is not required to register where its annual income is less than £5,000 (as at June 2017)

  2. excepted charities with income below £100,000 a year (as at June 2017)

  3. a local branch of a larger charity may not have to register unless it’s independent (for example, it controls its own funds)

  4. non-England and Wales based charities cannot be registered

  5. exempt charities cannot

Popular documents