Update on the implementation of the UK Charities Act 2022: changes to ex gratia payments postponed

The Charity Commission has amended the timetable setting out the implementation of the Charities Act 2022, which received Royal Assent on 24 February 2022.

Sections 15 and 16 of the Charities Act 2022, which set out a new test for trustees when considering making ex gratia payments, have been removed from the webpage setting out changes being introduced and instead are now stated to be “under further consideration prior to commencement”.

The changes to ex gratia payments under the Charities Act 2022 have been widely reported in the press as paving the way for museums and other similar charitable institutions to return cultural items and artefacts to their place of origin. Civil society minister Lord Kamall confirmed in a statement to the House of Lords that “the government are deferring the commencement of [sections 15 and 16] of the Act, which we initially expected to be part of the first tranche of commencements in the autumn, until we fully understand the implications for national museums and other charities”. Lord Kamall stated that the restitution of items from national museums on moral grounds was not considered by the House of Commons or the House of Lords when the Charities Bill was being debated.

A number of changes are still due to come into effect in autumn 2022, including powers to amend Royal Charters and changes to the approach of trustees providing goods or services to a charity, with further tranches of implementation scheduled for spring and autumn 2023.

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