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Charities Update - October 2018

23 October 2018

Jillian O'Sullivan and Cliona Deegan from the Company Law and Regulatory Committee of the institute provide an update on recent activity in the Charity arena.

The Charities Regulator - News

  • The Chief Executive of the Charities Regulator, Mr John Farrelly, is to step down from the position at the end of October 2018.
  • The Regulator has launched a new website, developed with the user in mind. It is easier to navigate and search. Information is displayed in a signpost manner – either for charities or the public.
  • The Charities Regulator has published a number of guidance documents. These include internal financial controls, guidance to trustees, guidelines for charitable organisations on fundraising from the public and guidance on managing conflicts of interest.

 

Code of Governance for Charities

The Charities Regulator is expected to publish Ireland’s first code of governance for charities in November, which follows on from the Report of the Consultative Panel on Governance of Charitable Organisations  earlier this year. 

The Report addresses a number of areas, including regulations relating to governance, codes of governance, guidance and support of charity trustees, rotation and length of term of office of charity trustees.             

It is expected to be a principles-based code operating on a “comply or explain” basis and it is hoped will be proportionate and appropriate to the size and capacity of the large number of registered Irish charities.

The new code should play a significant role in improving the governance of Irish Charities and is to be welcomed by the both the sector as a whole and the public as part of the process of improving  public confidence in charitable organisations.

The full report from the Consultative Panel is available to download from the Regulator’s website which also has details of upcoming “Meet the Charities Regulator” sessions being run regionally and in Dublin over the coming months. 

 

Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP)

The charities SORP is the set of rules, first issued in 1995, which governs charity accounting for charitable companies and larger charities and was initially developed by the Charity Commission for England and Wales and the Scottish Charity Regulator. At present the SORP framework exists only as recommended best practice for charities in Ireland.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has approved the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and the Charities Regulatory Authority of Ireland as joint members of the SORP-making body, which develops the framework.

The four charity regulators in the UK and Ireland have launched a governance review of the constitution and composition of the SORP committee and the SORP making process, which handles charity accounting rules. The governance revew is being undertaken by an Oversight Panel comprising an observer representative nominated by the FRC and a representative from each of the four charity regulators. The work of the panel is overseen by Dr Gareth Morgan, an independent Chair retained by the SORP-making body.

The purpose of the review is to gain assurance that the SORP-making process commands confidence and addresses the transparency and public confidence challenges facing charities, and to assure the FRC that any revised arrangements adhere to the FRC Policy on developing SORPs.

The Oversight Panel met on 10 September 2018. The Panel decided that the best way to seek stakeholders' views on the SORP process is to have a public consultation. The consultation is expected to open in early November and close early in the new year - further details to be announced. The next meeting of the Panel is scheduled for 30 October in Dublin.

The move for Ireland’s Charities Regulator to join the SORP-making body is subject to regulations being passed that formalise the SORP’s use. These proposed amendments are included in the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2017).

For more information on SORP follow this link.