Emil Ford Lawyers

Charity & Not-for-Profit Articles

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Duties of Governors of Not-for-Profits and Charities


Read David Ford and Sarah Heydon's paper from their September 2017 Legalwise presentation entitled Duties of Governors of Not-for-Profits and Charities. The paper addresses the importance of purpose for organisations, the common law duties of organisations as well as statutory duties under the Corporations Act and the ACNC Act.


Ancillary Funds

Streamlining Ancillary Fund Reporting

The Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) are collaborating and sharing data. This means that ancillary funds registered as charities need only report their annual return once using the ACNC's online Annual Information Statement.  (From Not-for-Profit Law Notes October 2016)

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Disputes, Allegations and Investigations

Handling Disputes, Allegations and Investigations within Not-for-Profit Organisations

Read David Ford's paper of March 2015 called Handling Disputes, Allegations and Investigations within Not-for-Profit Organisations.  This paper is about what to do when things happen that you hope will never happen.

Many Not-for-Profits are ill-equipped and unprepared when disputes and allegations arise and when investigations have to be carried out. This paper will both equip and prepare the governors, leaders and managers of Not-for-Profits to deal with such matters.

 Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

ACNC transitional reporting arrangements

Transitional reporting provisions are being extended to allow the ACNC to accept certain reports lodged with other government agencies.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes March 2016)

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ACNC has been spared!

The Government’s plans to scuttle the ACNC are no more. The ACNC will now work towards enhancing compliance by charities, particularly in the areas of governance, accountability, transparency and fundraising. How does this affect you?

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes March 2016)

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ACNC to revoke nearly 200 charities

On 14 October 2015 the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) issued a notice of intention to revoke almost 200 charities. The ACNC has unsuccessfully tried to contact these charities several times during its nearly 3 years of operation and is assuming that they are no longer operating.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes October 2015

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ACNC - A more secure future?

It no longer appears that the abolition of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is imminent. 

Read more about the future of the ACNC in this article published in the February 2015 edition of Not-for-Profit Law Notes.

Federal Government continues to move towards winding up the ACNC

The future of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission appears to be in grave doubt. The ACNC has maintained its tenure as the main regulator of the not-for-profit sector since its implementation by the Labor Government in 2012. The abolishment of the ACNC was however one of the election promises made by the Coalition Government in 2013.  Read more about what this could mean for your Not-for-Profit organisation in the July 2014 edition of Not-for-Profit Law Notes.


Website blocking injunctions provide new remedies for rights holders

Copyright owners can now apply for an injunction requiring an Internet Service Provider to disable access to online locations outside of Australia where the primary purpose of that online location is to infringe copyright.  From Not-for-Profit Law Notes April 2016Learn more ...



Can a not-for-profit exclude people from its premises?

Mr G had been regularly attending a church in Queensland. Problems arose when he distributed pamphlets in pigeon holes at the church. These pamphlets made unfavourable comments about the religious views of the church and criticised the suitability of the pastor. This was not the first time that he had distributed similar material to church members and he was repeatedly asked to leave before the police were called.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes November/December 2014)  Read more ...


Can a religious organisation discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation? 

A recent decision by the Victorian Court of Appeal has found that a Christian youth camping organisation, Christian Youth Camps Ltd ("CYC"), was guilty of sexual discrimination by refusing the booking of Cobaw Community Health Service Ltd ("Cobaw") in 2007.

(From Not-for Profit Law Notes May 2014)  Read more ...


UK discrimination laws affect adoption practices of religious organisations

A recent case in the United Kingdom considered the extent to which a religious organisation was affected by discrimination legislation.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes September 2013) Read more ...


Fair Work Act

Employees and volunteers? Ensuring that your people are on the correct team

Classification as an employee carries with it many rights and protections for employees and greater liability for their employers. For this reason, some organisations deliberately misclassify individuals as volunteers rather than employees, as well as making this mistake by accident. In a recent case, the Fair Work Commission was required to decide whether a football coach was a volunteer or employee of Football Federation Victoria – an important distinction which would determine whether he was eligible for unfair dismissal provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes February 2017) Read more ...


Board Beware Board Be Fair

In a decision of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, penalties were imposed on a company director for breaches of the Fair Work Act, including:

  • failure to pay the minimum wage required under the relevant Award;
  • failure to pay casual loading;
  • failure to pay weekend penalty rates; and
  • failure to pay overtime.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes November/December 2016) Read more ...


Dismissal for Failure to attend a medical examination

A decision of the Fair Work Commission has provided some questions for not-for-profit organisations to ask themselves in determining whether a direction to attend a medical examination is reasonable ...

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes May 2016Read more ...


Request to extend unpaid parental leave

Do you know what to do when an employee asks to extend their unpaid parental leave? Changes to the Fair Work Act have moved the goal posts.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes March 2016Read more ...


Work experience or wilful exploitation Read more ...


How does Crocmedia Impact Volunteers Read more ...

These two articles are important reading for those organisations using voluteer staff.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes April 2015) 


Changes to workplace arrangements

The passing of the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 brings about significant changes requiring the attention of not-for-profit organisations, some of which have already taken effect.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes September 2013)  Read more ...



False Promises and Broken Dreams -
What to avoid when trying to hire a new employee

In this article, we discuss two cases where employers found themselves paying hefty damages to employees due to misrepresentations they made to potential employees. If an employer misrepresents future prospects of the company during the course of pre-contractual negotiations, it could be found liable for misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes June 2016Read more ...


Employee or independent contractor? ...
Superannuation obligations

Many organisations engage the services of a worker under the auspices of a “contractor agreement” in the hope of reducing tax and other obligations. However, there is no “quick fix”.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes July 2015)  Read more ...


Disciplinary Tribunals - What's reasonable?

When a rider rode his horse to victory he had no idea that his mount's owner had given the horse prohibited substances. The Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Ltd (the ASC) disqualified the horse's owner AND the rider from competition for 12 months. The ASC is a not-for-profit organisation.

The rider appealed and Not-for-profits can learn valuable lessons about their disciplinary procedures from the ASC's experience. 

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes May 2016Read more ... 

Financial Reporting

Financial Reporting Standards to begin 2020

Not-for-Profits will be able to give a more accurate view of their true financial circumstances to donors when new standards for reporting are introduced in 2020. Revenue from grants and donations will only need to be recognised after associated performance obligations to provide goods or services have been met, and not immediately upon receipt (as usually occurs under the current standards).

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes Febuary 2017Read more ...


What changes to the ACL could mean for you

Recommended changes to the Australian Consumer Law ("ACL") could bring much-needed clarity to the entire not-for-profit sector.

An amendment to Section 18 of the ACL to read that a person must not, in trade or commerce or in relation to fundraising activities, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or is likely to mislead or deceive has been suggested.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes November/December 2016Read more ...


The Deceptive Blogger and her false claims about her charitable giving

You may be familiar with the story of Belle Gibson who was a much talked about wellness blogger. She built a successful business on the back of her false claims that she had defeated cancer by eating healthy and making other positive lifestyle changes. She claimed that part of the proceeds of sales of her app and book would be donated to charities. Upon investigation, most donations were not made.

It is important for not-for-profits to know what the Federal Court of Australia had to say about the application of the Australian Consumer Law (‘ACL’) to those who benefit financially from making false claims about their charitable donations.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes April 2017Read more ...  

Not-for-Profit Structure:

Bullying, The Fair Work Act, and Constitutional Corporations

Not-For-Profits come in all shapes and sizes. With different laws affecting different types of Not-For-Profits, it is important that you know the structure of your charity and the laws that govern it. 

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes March/April 2014)  Read more ...



Series of 6 articles covering the duties of Board Members of registered charities:

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Much is said about governance these days, particularly in relation to not-for-profit organisations.  Is it all just theory (hot air)?  We don't believe this. 

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes February 2015 Read more ... 


New governance standards for charities

New governance standards are now in effect for charities that are registered with the ACNC. These governance standards will need to be met on an ongoing basis in order to maintain registration with the ACNC.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes September 2013Read more ...


Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Status

Are you sure your income is tax exempt?

The Australian Taxation Office has recently released TR 2015/1, which sets out the Commissioner of Taxation’s view on what particular special conditions not-for-profit entities must fulfil in order to be exempt from income tax. A copy of the Final Ruling can be found here.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes March 2015)  Read more ...


New DGR category for ethics classes in government schools

To be endorsed as a deductible gift recipient in Australia, an organisation or fund must fall into one of the categories prescribed by legislation. These categories include public hospitals, higher education institutions, school building funds and animal welfare charities. 

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes September 2013)  Read more ...



New Privacy Laws could be on the way

Proposed amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 could mean the introduction of a mandatory reporting scheme for serious data breaches. This reporting scheme would apply to all entities bound by the Privacy Act: essentially, any organisation with an annual turnover over $3 million.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes February 2016Read more ...


Changes to the Privacy Act

On 12 March 2014, a series of amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 took effect.  Not-for-profit organisations should make sure they are aware of the amendments to the Privacy Act.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes September 2013)  Read more ...


Procedural Fairness 

All charity and not-for-profit organisations must observe the principles of procedural fairness when making a decision regarding an employee, especially if that decision has the potential to affect the rights, interests or legitimate expectations of an individual.

A recent Supreme Court case involving a greyhound trainer and former President of the United Queensland Greyhounds Association highlights some simple rules for charities and not-for-profit organisations regarding procedural fairness.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes April 2016Learn more ...


Risk Management

Providing Reasonable Care for Reasonable Carers

When a carer for severely disabled clients in a not-for-profit residential care facility was assaulted, she suffered serious psychological and physical harm. The matter ended up in the Supreme Court of Queensland and a decision regarding potential damages has recently been made. The carer alleged several ways in which her employer had failed to take reasonable care.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes June 2016).  Read more ...


Some guidance from the ATO
on how NOT to be known for the wrong reasons!

Following a series of high-profile scandals in 2016 involving charities and not-for-profits in the UK, the ATO has released some guidance on how it intends to build and maintain confidence in the Australian not-for-profit sector. Charities and not-for-profits should familiarise themselves with the guidance here to avoid attracting the ATO’s attention for all the wrong reasons.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes February 2017).  Read more ...


Limiting FBT Concessions on Salary
Sacrificed Entertainment Benefits

A consultation paper outlining the Federal Treasury's draft legislation proposing a cap on the "meal entertainment" benefits (including holidays, cruises, weddings, and meals and alcohol in restaurants) available for salary packaging to charity and not-for-profit sector workers has been made available for comments.  

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes July 2015)  Read more ...


Trade Marks

Trade Mark Disputes - where legal advice saves money

Read about a case involving a trade mark dispute between two charities with similar names and logos. The outcome of the case provides important lessons for charities.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes February 2016Read more ...


Trade Mark Myths for Charities

Registering a trade mark is a powerful way of protecting an organisation’s name, regardless of whether it is a commercial entity, or a not-for-profit. In this article, we address three of the most common trade mark myths for charities.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes November 2015Read more ... 


Charitable Legacies vs Family Provision

This article looks at two cases involving charitable legacies and Family Provision Act claims, one from the UK and one in Australia.

(From Not-for-Profit Law Notes September 2015)

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