Charities (Jersey) Law 2014
The Charities Law was introduced in 2014 and provides a framework by which charities in Jersey will be regulated. It applies to companies, trusts, foundations, fidéicommis and incorporated associations.
John Mills CBE was appointed as Jersey’s Charity Commissioner in July 2017. His appointment allows that part of the Charities Law permitting charities to register as charities in Jersey to come into force. It will do so on 1 May 2018.
The Jersey Register of Charities will be public. Registration will be voluntary, but necessary to use or be referred to as a “charity” and to gain Jersey tax reliefs. There are different categories of registration (e.g. general and restricted) depending if funds are being raised from the public or not. Furthermore, the Charities Law places further obligations upon charitable trustees (known as “Governors”).
It is anticipated that the remaining provisions of the Charities Law will come into force in early 2019.
What to do for May 2018
Entities (whether companies, trusts, foundations, fidéicommis or incorporated associations) should undertake a review and:
consider if registration under the Charities Law is required and if so should it be general registration (where funds are publically raised) or restricted registration (where funds are not publically raised and where details of the charity are more confidential);
check the names of entities (e.g. companies, trusts, foundations) for the word “charity” and, if registration is not following, to amend the name accordingly to remove it;
if registering, draft the registered charitable purposes and a registered public benefit statement for each entity.
Charity and Philanthropy
There are distinguishing characteristics between charity (which tends to focus on the relief of a particular social problem) and philanthropy (which tends to address the root cause of the problem), and although there is a recognised degree of overlap in practice between the two, ultimately they both contain the act of “giving” for the betterment of society and humanity.
The Charity Law does not distinguish between charity and philanthropy. Rather, the Charity Law’s definition of “charitable purposes” encompasses purposes whose characteristics are both charitable and philanthropic.
In January 2014, the Washington Times reported that the top wealthiest 1% possess 40% of the United States’ national wealth. In July 2014, the New York Times reported that the “richest 1 percent in the United States now own more additional income than the bottom 90 percent”. In January 2017, an Oxfam study found that eight rich people, six of them Americans, own as much combined wealth as half the human race. With such staggering statistics, charity and philanthropy is more important than ever. Hence it is encouraging to see foundations, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which, since its inception to 2016, has granted USD 41.3 billion to their five core objectives.
It is estimated that one third of all Jersey foundations are used for philanthropic purposes. Its characteristics and flexibility make it an attractive vehicle for philanthropy. Jersey’s Charities Law further enhances Jersey’s ability to assist with charity and philanthropy structuring providing an additional, but specific regulatory framework.
Jersey is a stable, tax neutral jurisdiction with a highly regarded regulatory regime, flexible and innovative legislation and experienced professionals making it an ideal jurisdiction for both charitable and philanthropic structures. The Charites Law only enhances that position and demonstrates Jersey’s seriousness of operating in this area.