Complaining about a decision we have made

In the course of its work, the Charity Commission takes a wide range of decisions. Those decisions range from whether or not to register an organisation as a charity, through decisions made in the course of providing advice, guidance and support to charitable organisations in England and Wales, to decisions about how we deal with cases of suspected abuse or maladministration.

When we take decisions we take a lot of trouble to make sure that we get them right and that any decision is in the interests of the particular organisation involved. We do recognise, however, that from time to time a customer may consider that we have not taken the correct decision and this is where our procedures to review decisions come in. The aim of the Decision Review is to ensure that the Commission’s final decision is the right one, in the sense that it is a proper exercise of our powers and consistent with our statutory objectives. We also check that the reasons for our decisions have been adequately expressed. 

The Decision Review process will usually be conducted within a maximum of 3 months. The process is managed by Legal Services and co-ordinated by the Final Decision and Tribunal Team (the FDT team). The decision you receive following the decision review process is the Commission’s final decision.

Alternatively, if you are dissatisfied with a decision we have made, you may be able to apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Charity). Details about how to contact the Tribunal can be found at the bottom of this page. You do not have to go through our decision review process before making an application to the Tribunal.

This guidance sets out the basic framework within which we are prepared to review decisions. To get an idea of the types of review we undertake you can view our published decisions which concern points of law, are novel, significant or otherwise of wider interest. 

1. Who can request a Review?

Broadly, any person or organisation who is able to show that:

  • the relevant decision does, or could, directly affect them (for example the trustees or beneficiaries of a charity); or
  • they are an authorised agent of someone who is, or could be, directly affected by the relevant decision.

2. Which decisions can be reviewed?

If you are unhappy with a decision we have taken, you can ask us if we will review it. By “decision” we generally mean those decisions taken within our statutory powers. These include decisions to register charities, or to improve the efficiency of a charity, or to check an abuse.

All the decisions listed in schedule 1C of the Charities Act 1993 (as inserted by schedule 4 of the Charities Act 2006 are eligible for Decision Review.

Decisions made under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold information from disclosure can also be reviewed using the Decision review procedure.

If your complaint is about the outcome of your case (ie a case-working judgement or decision that is not listed in Schedule 1C) we may be able to offer a formal outcome review.

3. How to ask us to Review a decision

We will accept requests for a Decision Review up to a maximum of 3 months after the original decision.

In exceptional circumstances and where we think it’s fair to do so, we will accept requests for a decision to be reconsidered outside the 3 month time limit. We would need to be told the reason for the delay and why it was considered that we should accept the request outside the time limit.

We will only be able to conduct a Decision Review if you supply us with:

  • information or evidence which is in addition to that which has been supplied to us already (the extra information requirement) which you consider may impact on our decision; OR
  • a reasoned argument showing why you feel that the decision was wrong (the reasoned argument requirement); and
  • some indication of why you feel that changing the decision would better promote charitable purposes in the interests of the organisation.

Please note also that we will decline to carry out a Decision Review if we consider that:

  • the decision does not fall with those listed in Schedule 1C, or you are not listed as a person who can apply to the Tribunal;
  • you are outside the timeframe for applying without good reason; or
  • the original decision was made by members of the Commission’s Board as this will be the Commission’s final decision.
Contacting the Charity Commission

You can make initial contact by telephone, but will need to follow this up by a formal request in writing within three months of the date when you were told about our decision if you wish to request us to carry out a review. Whilst you are not obliged to do so, you may find it helpful to ask us to conduct a review by using the form below.

About your request that we review a decision

You may complete this form on-line.

If you are not completing the form on-line, please print off the PDF version of the form and return to the appropriate postal address or fax number. We will regard a returned form by email, letter or fax as sufficient formal notification of your request for a review.

The First-tier Tribunal (Charity) 

If you are not satisfied with the Commission’s final decision you may be able to appeal or make an application for review to the Tribunal. Schedule 1C of the Charities Act 1993 sets out for each type of decision who is eligible to request an appeal or apply for a review.

The First-tier Tribunal (Charity) is an independent legal body which has the power to look again at some of the decisions made by the Commission and to quash, change or add to them. In some cases the Tribunal may direct us to take further action or rectify our decision.

The Tribunal can be contacted as follows:

The First-tier Tribunal (Charity) Manager
Tribunals Operational Support Centre
PO Box 6987

Telephone: 0845 6000 877
Fax:0116 249 4253

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