The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland was established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008. This Act laid down the general functions of the Commission, which include:

  • determining whether institutions are or are not charities
  • establishing and maintaining an accurate and up-to-date register of charities
  • encouraging and facilitating the better administration of charities
  • identifying and investigating apparent misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of charities and taking remedial or protective action.

In June 2012 the Commission referred a technical problem with the wording of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 to the Department for Social Development for consideration. Following that, Royal Assent was granted on 18 January 2013 to the Bill to amend the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.

The subsequent amendments made by the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 allowed for the consultation on the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland’s draft public benefit and registration guidance to start on 4 February 2013. The development also meant registration of charities in Northern Ireland could begin later that year, with registration beginning on Monday 16 December 2013.

The full text of the 2008 and 2013 Acts, as passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly, are available below:

Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (external link)

Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 (external link)  

The Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 available above is the entire Act. However, the entire Act has not yet been brought into operation. This will happen gradually through a series of Commencement Orders. Each Commencement Order gives a date by which each section of the Act becomes "live".

In order to help you understand what is currently live, we have produced a copy of the 2008 Act, which shows only the commenced sections and the amendments made by the 2013 Act. This document is available to read or download below:

Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008 (MS Word 607KB)


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