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Measuring up

Rosalind English considers the impact on school trustees of a recent tribunal ruling between the ISC and the Charity Commission

19 January 2012

It is not for the Charity Commission or the courts to impose on trustees of a school their own idea of what is for the ‘public benefit’ so as to qualify for charitable status, the Upper Tribunal has ruled. Provided they run their charity to ensure that the poor are able to benefit in a way that is more than minimal or tokenistic, it is a matter for the trustees themselves to decide how their obligations might best be fulfilled.

Driving seat

The decision follows a challenge by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) to the lawfulness of the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit for fee-charging schools. In a detailed assessment of the law on charitable status both before and after the Charities Act 2006, the appeal panel concluded that the legislation has not introduced any legal requirement on schools to act in a way prescribed by the Charity Commission or anyone else; they should be free to ma...

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