Royal Charters
Produced in partnership with Adam Cygan of University of Leicester and Mr Darragh Connell of Maitland Chambers

The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Adam Cygan of University of Leicester and Mr Darragh Connell of Maitland Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Royal Charters
  • What is a Royal Charter?
  • Historical usage
  • Establishment by Royal Charter
  • Governance and accountability
  • Restrictions on corporations created by Royal Charter
  • Surrender of a Royal Charter

Royal Charters

FORTHCOMING CHANGE: The Charities Act 2022 (CA 2022) received Royal Assent on 24 February 2022 and will be implemented on a staggered basis between now and Autumn 2023. CA 2022 will implement the majority of the recommendations from the 2017 Law Commission report, ‘Technical Issues in Charity Law’. For a summary of the recommendations that have been accepted, see News Analysis: Government response to Law Commission report ‘Technical Issues in Charity Law’. For further guidance on the implementation of CA 2022, see News Analysis: Charities Act 2022—what do we know so far?.

What is a Royal Charter?

The term 'Royal Charter' has transformed over time. Originally, a Royal Charter was a procedure by which the Crown could grant corporate personality to bodies of persons conducting activities for public, or private, benefit. Today, the term essentially describes an honorary status, which may be granted to eminent professional bodies or charitable organisations which have a record of achievement and are deemed financially sound in the opinion of the Privy Council.

The term is sometimes used to refer to municipal charters, which establish towns and cities.

Historical usage

Obtaining a Royal Charter was the original mechanism to acquire corporate personality for bodies of persons conducting activities for public, or private, benefit. The first Royal Charter for a body of persons providing public benefit was granted to the University of Cambridge in

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