A prosecution brought by the Charities Regulator against Clare Biodiversity clg was heard last week (9 April) in Kilrush district court. The charity was fined €50 having pleaded guilty to failing to file an annual report with the Charities Regulator.

All charities are required by law to submit an annual report on their activities and finances within 10 months of the end of their financial year. The contents of these reports are published on the Register of Charities and provide essential information to help inform donors and the general public. Clare Biodiversity clg is among a small number of charities being prosecuted that are companies which had made their annual returns to the Company Registration Office during the same period.

The Charities Regulator began a programme last year to improve compliance rates with annual reporting obligations, targeting approximately 1,700 charities that have either never filed or are late filing their annual report to the Charities Regulator.

Acknowledging the ruling, Madeleine Delaney, Interim Chief Executive, Charities Regulator commented: “The Charities Regulator gives charities every opportunity to comply with their reporting obligations but where they don’t we will take enforcement action. Compliance with the law isn’t optional. This is about the requirement for registered charities to be transparent and accountable to the public on whom they rely for support. It is also about fairness for the majority of charities that file their annual reports on time every year, especially smaller charities who face considerable competition for much needed donations.”

Other charities that are not complying with their legal reporting requirements are being considered for enforcement action. This may include prosecution of the charity, of the individual charity trustees (also known as board members), and/or removal of the charity from the Register of Charities. 

Ms Delaney added: “The Charities Regulator strongly encourages all trustees to check their charity is up to date with its annual reports on the public Register of Charities. If you are a charity trustee, do not assume that someone else has filed your charity’s annual report on your behalf.  If your charity’s annual reports are not up-to-date, please complete and file the online form without delay. Guidance on submitting an annual report can be found on our website.”