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The Upper Tribunal has given an important decision on the Charity Commission’s powers to direct a charity to change its name.

Under section 42 of the Charities Act 2011, the Commission has a power to direct a charity to change its name if one of various grounds is satisfied, including that its name is “too like” the name of another charity.

The Commission exercised this power in respect of Cambridge Islamic College (CIC), following a complaint made by Cambridge Muslim College (CMC).

CIC successfully appealed to the First-tier Tribunal (FTT), which held that the test for determining whether charity names are “too like” is a simple visual or aural test.

On further appeal, the Upper Tribunal (UT) accepted the Commission’s argument that the FTT had applied an unduly narrow test. The words “too like” should be given their ordinary meaning; that is a broad and open-ended meaning rather than a meaning focusing entirely on visual or aural similarity. It is legitimate also to consider similarity in meaning of the words used in the two names. However, on the facts, the UT held that applying the correct test the names of the two charities were not “too like”.

The UT’s judgment is available here. 

Iain Steele acted for the Charity Commission.

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