St Margaret’s Children and Family Care: no further appeal by OSCR

As regular readers will know, on 31 January the Scottish Charity Appeal Panel (SCAP) issued its decision to quash the direction issued by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society: see St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society v Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator [2014] Scottish Charity Appeals Panel App 02/13, about which we posted our own analysis.

OSCR has now issued the following statement in response:

“OSCR’s Board has carefully considered the Panel’s decision and its note of reasons, informed by Senior Counsel’s views.  OSCR’s has also considered the Note of Reasons provided by the Panel: we find aspects of this wider commentary difficult to follow and to accept. Important amongst those considerations were the following:

  • The Panel made a number of findings in fact.  OSCR’s clear view is that it is unlikely that the Court of Session would decide to revisit these and an appeal would therefore be unlikely to succeed.
  • The decision relates only to St Margaret’s and to the facts in that case; the wider implications for OSCR’s policies and regulation are limited.
  • OSCR can clarify a number of secondary matters without recourse to an expensive appeal process.

Taking all this into account, OSCR’s Board has decided that an appeal in this case is not justified.

We note also that the recent passing by the Scottish Parliament of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 changes the basis of law on which both OSCR and SCAP decided.

Because of our concerns about aspects of the Panel’s Note of Reasons, we consider it will be helpful to set out for charities and the wider public how we will exercise our functions.  The attached explanatory note sets out how OSCR will continue to undertake these functions. In particular, it explains that we will continue to regard unlawful discrimination by a charity as a serious concern and an issue which is likely to call charitable status into question”.

Comment: Compare and contrast with the Catholic Care litigation in England.

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