Regina (Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Britain and others) v Charity Commission – WLR Daily

Regina (Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Britain and others) v Charity Commission [2016] EWCA Civ 154

‘Following three trials of former members of Jehovah’s Witnesses’s congregations on charges of historic sex abuse the Charity Commission decided to initiate a statutory inquiry relating to a leading Jehovah’s Witness charity’s safeguarding policy regarding vulnerable beneficiaries in particular children, under section 46 of the Charities Act 2011, and to order the charity to produce a wide range of documents, under section 52 of the Act, even though none of those accused was connected with the charity. .The applicants, the charity and its trustees, sought judicial review of those decisions, on the grounds that (i) the commission had acted disproportionately by commencing an inquiry the scope of which was vague and undefined and by interfering with the applicants’ Convention rights, and had thereby breached its duty to act fairly so that the decision was irrational; and (ii) the scope of the production order was disproportionate in that information was sought of a personal and sensitive nature, within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1998, and was furthermore in breach of the Convention rights of individuals affected. The judge in refusing permission to proceed with the judicial review clain held that the applicants had an effective statutory remedy by appealing to the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) (Charity) against a decision to initiate an inquiry, and that any complaint relating to the breadth of a production order could be dealt with before that tribunal.’

WLR Daily, 15th March 2016