The Commission, under the Charities Act (NI) 2008, has powers to authorise transactions. Under these powers, we may authorise transactions which were otherwise not legally possible for the charity to make themselves.
These powers are contained in section 46 and section 47 of the Charities Act (NI) 2008. The Commission has produced guidance ‘Authorising transactions’ which sets out our powers in relation to authorising transactions and how to apply for an authorisation.
Examples of when you may want to apply for an authorisation include where:
- trustees of a charity wish to make a transaction or payment which is in the best interests of the charity but they do not have the power to do so.
- trustees of a charity wish to make a transaction or payment which is not in the best interests of the charity but which they think they have a moral obligation to make.
The application of these powers will allow charities to make transactions and payments that they may otherwise not have been able to do. This will help charities to respond to changing or challenging circumstances.
You can read the guidance via the links below.
Authorising transactions guidance (MS Word 717 KB)
Authorising transactions application form (MS Word 201 KB)
If you have any questions please read our FAQ’s below. If this does not help, please contact us on
Telephone 028 3832 0220 or
Textphone 028 3834 7639 or
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about authorising transactions
A. What sort of transactions can the Charity Commission authorise?
The guidance provides full details about the type of transactions we can authorise. In summary, the new powers allow trustees to apply to the Commission to make a transaction which they do not have the power or legal obligation to make if the transaction is either:
- In the best interest of the charity; or
- Not in the best interest of the charity, but is something the trustees feel a moral obligation to do.
Examples of proposed transactions which may be in the best interests of the charity include:
- Making a payment as a gift to a long-serving employee on his or her retirement;
- Giving an additional severance payment to an employee who has been made redundant.
This guidance currently only applies to those organisations that appear on the deemed list of charities. In the future, it will also apply to those organisations that are registered with the Commission.
B. Who can apply to the Charity Commission to authorise a transaction?
The application must be made by the charity trustees. The application form may be completed by someone acting on behalf of the charity, such as a solicitor or an accountant, but the trustees must sign the application. It is the trustees’ responsibility to ensure that the proposed transaction is properly authorised by the Commission.
C. What should trustees do if they need a transaction authorised?
First, they should read the guidance. This will help them to provide the correct information we need on the application form. We have developed a form which the trustees should sign and send to us. You can also contact the Charity Commission for more information. Our preferred method of contact is e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
D. How long will it take the Commission to make a decision?
The length of time this process will take depends on a number of factors including whether we need to contact you for further information and the complexity of the application.
We aim to complete the process within three months of receiving a fully completed application and will let you know if there are likely to be any delays.
E. What authority does the Commission have to authorise transactions?
The Charities Act (NI) 2008 gives the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland powers to allow charity trustees to make payments or transactions which are not normally a proper use of the charity’s resources.
The sections of the Act which allow the Commission to do this are sections 46 and 47, and these are in operation. This means that we can help charity trustees to safeguard their charity’s assets by providing them with reassurance that transactions they wish to make are properly authorised.