The charity leaders network ACEVO is delighted that the Charity Commission has accepted that it has no powers to place a permanent ban on a charity’s discretionary choice to fund a given cause.
ACEVO welcome this as victory for common sense. The out of court settlement between CAGE and the Commission sets the record straight. Charities “must be free to exercise their powers and duties in the light of circumstances existing at the time”.
Charity leaders say that this finding and the case overall had implications for all charities far beyond the specifics of the case. At stake were the limits of the Charity Commission’s powers and its discretion to exercise them, the freedom of trustees to exercise their judgement and the protection of that freedom for the future.
The Chief Executive of ACEVO Sir Stephen Bubb said: “For the Charity Commission to have assumed as general principle that it had omnipotence over the future was quite extraordinary. It over-reached itself and now needs to reflect.
“This case was critical for the protection of the rights of charities to exercise their proper judgement now and in the future. It means charities may continue to operate without fearfully looking over their shoulder to see if they are crossing a line arbitrarily drawn by the Commission.
“The outcome of this case sends a cautionary message to all those reflecting on the future regulation of charities.
“Finally, for the Commission to bewail the costs involved with this case is ungracious. It could have revised its position at any time before the implementation and during prosecution of proceedings. It chose not to. That is why the money was spent. No regulator can assume a doctrine of Papal infallibility and must be subject to challenge when it gets things wrong .”