Charity registration decision welcomed

 02 February 2012

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has today welcomed the Department for Social Development’s statement on the preferred form of amendment to the Charities Act (NI) 2008.

The legislative amendment will allow the Commission to register the estimated 7,000 – 10,000 Northern Ireland charities. This process will begin with a public consultation expected to happen as soon as the legislation is passed by the NI Assembly, likely to be early in 2013.

Chief Charity Commissioner Tom McGrath is satisfied with the recent development:

"I am pleased that the Charity Commission can now get on with the registration of Northern Ireland charities. This process will not happen overnight, but after almost two years of enforced delay, the Commission can finally get the registration ball rolling."

"I can say with great certainty that the Commissioners are looking forward to this new phase of our work. All of our other work has been made much more complex by the absence of registration.

"The Commission has always had a steady workload despite the registration complexities. Our recent report on the first 100 concerns about charities investigated by the Commission demonstrates this. The report, published last week, provides useful lessons for charities, helping them to avoid common mistakes.

"On the registration front, however, we are satisfied that a decision on the amendment has finally been made, and is in keeping with our preferred solution since we referred the problem with the legislation back to DSD in June 2010."

The registration of charities will begin with a consultation process on the Commission’s Public Benefit guidance and a pilot registration phase involving twenty local organisations. Charities need not do anything at the moment in terms of registration. The Commission will make further statements when that time comes.


Notes to editors:

  • It was originally planned that charity registration would begin at the end of June 2010. However as a result of the public consultation and legal advice on the robustness of the definition of a charity, the Commission referred the legislation back to the Department for Social Development in June 2010. The Department’s review concerned the technical aspects of the legislation governing the public benefit requirement.
  • When the agreed amendment is passed by the Assembly the Commission can publish its Public Benefit Guidance and registration can begin.
  • The aforementioned report "One Hundred Lessons to be Learned", is published on the Charity Commission’s website at


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