The Charites Act 2009 has been signed into law and awaits the making of the necessary commencement orders by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
The Act contains measures to reform the law relating to charities and in particular to strengthen accountability and provide protection against abuse of charitable status and fraud. The Act together with the Charities Acts 1961 and 1973 and the Street and Houses to House Collections Act 1962 and provide for a composite regulatory framework for charities through a combination of new legislative provisions and retention of existing charities legislation as amended.
The Act provides for the dissolution of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland (CCDB) and the establishment of a new regulatory authority – The Charities Regulatory Authority. The Act also provides for regulation in a proportionate manner to the operational size of a charity with varying reporting requirements depending on whether a charity is above or below specified monetary levels in terms of its annual income or expenditure.
A significant number of amendments were introduced to the legislation during its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas. These amendments include:
- A disapplication of the legislation to certain trusts
- Provisions to deem existing Revenue-approved CHY charities to be registered for the purposes of the legislation provided they comply with its provisions.
- Provisions to enable non-Irish based charities to register with the Charities Regulatory Authority.
- Specific provisions to enable charities to enter into service agreements subject to certain conditions. Charities will also be allowed to arrange indemnity insurance for trustees.
- More detailed provisions in relation to offences under the legislation and new provisions for appeals against the refusal to register a charity.
- Copies of relevant annual returns are to be furnished by the Companies Registration Office to the Charities Regulatory Authority.
- Charitable organisations covered by the legislation would be defined as “retail credit firms” for the purposes of Section 28 of the Central Bank Act 1997.