Ex Gratia Payments – Hold the Front Page

27 October 2022

Oh dear, it was all going so nicely.  The Charities Act 2022 provided for useful modernising changes to the ex gratia framework.  These included allowing charities to deal with ex gratia applications in-house (i.e. without reference to the Charity Commission) if the payments in question did not exceed set financial thresholds, and a provision for charity trustees to delegate the consideration and approval of ex gratia payments to trustee sub-committees or to office-holders within the charity.

This part of the Charities Act 2022 was due to be implemented this autumn.  Unfortunately, however, this has now been delayed. 

Uncertainty has arisen as to whether the changes to the ex gratia provisions in the Act have gone further than anyone (including Parliament) intended.  Specifically, there is debate as to whether, and if so to what extent, the ex gratia provisions can now be used to allow museums and other heritage institutions to return cultural artefacts to the countries from where those artefacts may have originated. 

The ex gratia provisions in the Act will enable charities' legacy departments to operate more effectively and at less cost in terms of staff time etc.  The delay in their implementation is an unfortunate example of the law of unforeseen consequences.  We will update you when there is any further news about the timescale for implementation.

In the meantime, the other parts of the Act which were due to be implemented in autumn 2022 or spring 2023 are still on hold.  Autumn 2022 will soon be gone, but there is still no further news in terms of specific dates for implementation.  We will keep you informed when further updates are issued on the Gov.UK website.

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