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ATTORNEY GENERAL v CHARITY COMMISSION FOR ENGLAND AND WALES & 10 ORS

Charities and benevolent bodies whose objects were the relief of poverty for a restricted group of beneficiaries nevertheless met the express requirements in the Charities Act 2006, and in case law prior to the coming into force of the Act, that they be “for the public benefit”. Their purposes were therefore charitable.

27 February 2012

In a non-adversarial reference by the Attorney General, the tribunal was required to clarify the effect of amendments to the Charities Act 2006 on charities which existed for the relief of poverty.

The reference was made when the first party Charity Commission became unsure as to whether the Act, which expressly required that charitable purposes be “for the public benefit”, had the effect of depriving it of jurisdiction to regulate trusts and other benevolent bodies whose objects were the relief of poverty to a restricted group of beneficiaries. The essential questions were (i) whether a trust for the relief of poverty could be charitable if those who benefited from it were defined by their relationship to (a) an individual; (b) a company; or (c) an unincorporated organisation; (ii) whether the Act statutorily reversed pre-2006 legal authorities; (iii) whether the nature and extent of public benefit required in order for a trust for the prevention of poverty to be a charit...

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