You might be aware that relatively recently a new regulator for charities in Northern Ireland, The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (“CCNI”), has been set up in a similar way to OSCR in Scotland.
If your charity is are active on a national basis there may be an obligation to register with CCNI as there was with OSCR, depending on the nature and level of your activities in Northern Ireland.
How is the registration process being managed?
The exercise of registering NI Charities is an ongoing process, and the new Commission is registering charities in stages and is “calling forward” relevant organisations to register online, the whole process taking a number of years.
The CCNI is starting with organisations in NI previously granted tax exemptions by HMRC but these organisations may not all be charitable, and some charitable organisations may not have been granted tax exemptions. All organisations active in the province that may be charitable however need to make the CCNI aware of their existence. A list is maintained of relevant organisations and if an organisation is not included on this list it should complete and send to the CCNI an “Expression of intent form”.
Particular rules apply to charities already registered with other regulators such as the Charity Commission in England & Wales (“CCEW”) or OSCR. Such organisations (known as “Section 167 organisations”) need to make CCNI aware of their operations and complete an “Expression of intent form”. Such organisations may have to wait some time before being called forwards.
This doesn’t explain the level of activities a national charity would need to be undertaking in NI to be caught by the registration requirement, but if you are active in NI you should discuss with the CCNI. Some of our clients are already in the course of applying for registration and are waiting to be processed.