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Law - Acts and Regulations

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1. A summary of the Acts and Regulations mentioned on the website

2. An introduction to Acts and Regulations  =background

Related web pages

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom - source: wikipedia.org - Crown copyright
Royal Coat of Arms
of the United Kingdom
(HM Government)

We've split this page into two parts :

  1. A summary of all the Acts and Regulations (=law) mentioned on the website - most of these focus on the core issue of misleading clothing collections
  2. An introduction to Acts of Parliament and Regulations generally - this gives background information, intended to help people who aren't that familiar with them

1. A summary of the Acts and Regulations mentioned on the website

Over the years, we've added various Acts and Regulations to the website.
We thought it was time we compiled a list of them in one place.
We've annotated this list with ever-so-helpful explanatory comments.

Most of the list below is split first by subject, then by Acts vs Regulations and by A-Z.

You can use the search box at the bottom of any web page - to find where the items have been mentioned.

Items not relating to England and Wales are marked like this paragraph.

Charities generally - law

Charities Act 1960
This established the central register of charities (maintained by the Charity Commission for England and Wales)

Charities Act 1992
Its provisions regarding charitable collections were never implemented

Charities Act 2006
Its provisions regarding charitable collections haven't been implemented yet (as at August 2013)

Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005
This established the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).
This is the Scottish equivalent of the Charity Commission for England and Wales

Charitable house-to-house collections law

Note:  These collections are the focus of the CharityBags website

House to House Collections Act 1939 (the 1939 Act)
Controls charitable house-to-house collections in England and Wales
Collectors need a licence from the district council, or
a National Exemption Order (NEO) from the Cabinet Office

House to House Charitable Collections Act (Northern Ireland) 1952
This seems to be the Northern Ireland equivalent of the House to House Collections Act 1939 (which covers England and Wales).
Note that they helpfully included the word 'charitable' in the Act's title (unlike the 'House to House Collections Act 1939')

House to House Collections Regulations 1947 and 1963 (H2H Regs)
= Regulations made under the House to House Collections Act 1939

National Exemption Orders (NEOs)
Made under the House to House Collections Act 1939
Formerly known as 'Home Office Exemption Orders' (HOEOs)
Now dealt with by the Cabinet Office
Currently around 44 charities have these authorisation Orders (eg Oxfam)
They 'exempt' the charities from the requirement to obtain local collection licences

Charitable street collections law

Note:  A 'street collection' means that the collector is static (stands still) in (say) a shopping centre - eg with a collection tin.
Don't confuse with house-to-house collections above.

Police, Factories, etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 (the 1916 Act)
Covers a variety of topics, including the licensing of charitable street collections in England and Wales

The Charitable Collections (Transitional Provisions) Order 1974
= Regulations made under the 1916 Act
Deals with street collections

Street Collections (Metropolitan Police District) Regulations 1979
= Regulations made under the 1916 Act

Local [charitable] street collection Regulations (total: around 200)
Made by district councils using discretionary powers in the 1916 Act.  These are specific to each council.  There are around 200 of these Regulations (=80% of all district councils).  Basically they're 'byelaws'  

Other law - especially regulation and enforcement

Companies Acts
Including powers to investigate (and close down) rogue companies

Companies Act 2006
This established 'community interest companies' (CICs)
- example: 'Air Ambulance Support CIC'

Enterprise Act 2002
Includes powers to secure undertakings from rogue traders
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) helps oversee the Act

Fraud Act 2006
= police powers - eg charges of deception (relevant to bogus clothing collectors)

Local Government Act 1972 (LGA)
This transferred the licensing of charitable house-to house (and street) collections from the police to district councils (except in London)

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)
eg rules for interviewing suspects - including bogus clothing collectors

Theft Acts
= police powers
Used (for example) with people who steal collection bags of clothes before the 'genuine' collector arrives

Other law - Regulations

Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008
= the Business Protection Regulations (the BPRs)

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
= the Consumer Protection Regulations (the CPRs)
Companion to the BPRs above
Dealt with by local council trading standards departments (TSDs)

Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988 (CMARs)
Superseded by the CPRs 2008 (see above)
Dealt with by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
These powers were used to obtain a written undertaking from a rogue clothing collector in 2004 (Nicholas Rees of Birmingham)

Information law

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA)
eg use of text and images on websites - such as 'fair use'

Data Protection Acts 1984 and 1998 (DPAs)
= 'information on living identifiable persons'
The Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) oversees the operation of the Acts

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA)
This applies only to government-held information
The Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO) oversees the operation of the Act.

Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985
This gave the public more rights to access government information
(and to attend council meetings).
It was a precursor to the Freedom of Information Act 2000

See the page on Freedom of information and data protection

Miscellaneous law

Human Rights Act 1998
This impinges upon issues relating to freedom of information (and data protection)

Environment Agency (EA)
Various Acts and Regulations dealing with waste
Affects some clothing collection operations
eg waste carrier licences (WCLs)

Licensing Act 2003 (LA2003)
Licensing of premises for the sale of alcohol
Dealt with by local council licensing departments
This regime makes an interesting contrast with charitable collections

Town and Country Planning Acts (TCPAs) - eg 1990
Compare public town planning registers with those of collection licences

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive 2002 (WEEE Directive)
= a European Union (EU) Directive on waste disposal and recycling (eg computers)
This is relevant to charity shops receiving and selling old electrical goods

Codes of practice etc
These rules aren't law as such.  Breaches are not dealt with in the courts.  There are no civil or criminal penalties.
Examples of relevant organisations with codes (or similar)  :
• The Charity Commission
• The Charity Retail Association (CRA)
• The Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB)
• The Institute of Fundraising (IoF)
• The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
• Nominet ('.uk' web addresses) - terms and conditions (T&Cs)

2. An introduction to Acts and Regulations


Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London
Houses of Parliament (www.bigfoto.com)
Click to enlarge (in a new window)

Much of the CharityBags website focuses on the law on house-to-house collections - and how the law can be used to stop misleading and bogus collections.  The 'law' here mostly means Acts and Regulations.  

Acts and Regulations aren't rocket science - you don't need to be a lawyer to understand them.  But there are a few basics you need to grasp.  So we wrote this page to help.

By the way (although we did courses on law at college), we're not lawyers - so don't treat the information on this page as 100% authoritative.


Acts :

Regulations :


Acts of Parliament

Acts are also known as 'Statutes'.

House to House Collections Act 1939 (the 1939 Act) - Title page (Crown Copyright HMSO)
1939 Act (title page) - Crown copyright HMSO

How is an Act created?

  • It starts life as a green paper (for consultation).
  • After this, the government issues a white paper with firm proposals.
  • The proposals are introduced into Parliament as a Bill - where it's debated and amended.
  • Finally it's approved by both Houses of Parliament (the House of Commons and the House of Lords).
  • The Monarch (the Queen) gives 'Royal Assent' - by signing it.  Then it becomes an Act.

The paragraphs of Bills are called clauses.  Once a Bill becomes an Act, clauses are referred to as sections.

Subdivision.  Acts are divided into parts, chapters, then sections, then subsections.  There are appendices, called 'schedules'.

Names.  The word 'Act' begins with an upper-case 'A'.
Normally, the official name of an Act doesn't have a 'The' word at the beginning.

Dates.  When you refer to an Act, you put its date after the name of the Act - eg 'Charities Act 2006'.  Sometimes there are several Acts with the same name (eg the Charities Acts 1992 and 2006) - so you have to specify the year of the Act to avoid confusion.

You may think some of these rules are a bit fussy.  However, it pays to get them right if you're dealing with regulators (or doing campaigning) - they'll take you more seriously - and they'll be more likely to co-operate in getting bogus collectors stopped.

Regulations (and Orders)

These are known as statutory instruments (SIs for short) and they deal with detail.  They form subordinate, secondary legislation.  They put the flesh on the bones of an Act.

Regulations can only be made if an Act makes provision for them. 
For example, the 1939 Act states in section 4(1) :

'4.(1) The Secretary of State may make regulations for prescribing anything which by this Act is required to be prescribed, and for regulating the manner in which collections ... may be carried out and the conduct of promoters and collectors in relation to such collections.'

The Regulations which resulted from this are the House to House Collections Regulations 1947.

General points

'Legislation' means the law.

Statute law and common law :

  • Statute law - means Acts and Regulations.
  • Common law - means law which is based on cases decided in the courts (by judges).

Primary and secondary legislation :

  • 'Primary legislation' - means Acts.
  • 'Secondary legislation' - means Regulations.
    It's also known as 'subordinate legislation' or 'delegated legislation'.

When do Acts come into force?

  • Some Acts come into force immediately.
  • Some Acts come into force later - on a specified date.
  • Parts of some Acts don't come into force until a Regulation is issued.
    Example - The Charities Act 2006 includes new rules for charitable collections.  But these won't come into force until a Regulation is issued.  See the charity law reforms page for details.

Amendments.  Beware - the original versions of Acts and Regulations are often amended later, by subsequent legislation.  There are three types of amendments - additions, deletions and modifications.  Sometimes the entire Act is repealed.  So, when you look at an Act, make sure you look at a copy that's up-to-date - in other words a copy which includes all the amendments.

  • Example - The 1939 Act (see above) was amended by the Local Government Act 1972.  This transferred the licensing of charitable house-to-house collections in all areas (except London) from the police to district councils from 1974 onwards.

Content and style.  Acts and Regulations are very carefully worded.  Also they have a strong, clear structure - an intense use of numbering, sub-divisions, cross-references etc.  However, they can appear dry, soulless, almost pedantic and difficult to understand.  See our page on plain English.

Pile of books

Guides to the law.  To help people understand the law, various publishers have produced guides/commentaries to specific areas of legislation.  These publishers include Butterworths, Sweet and Maxwell and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG - a charity).

These guides aim to present the law in a more digestible form, providing explanation, giving case law, and describing any alterations made later.  Some are loose-leaf format (using fancy ring binders), and the publishers send update sheets to subscribers every two months or so.

Most of the guides cover one area of law (such as charities, companies, data protection or town planning).  An area of law usually has several Acts affecting it.

See the report on charitable collections by the Home Office (2003) for a nice summary of collection law.

With prosecutions in most fields (typically held in magistrates courts or Crown Courts), the prosecuting authority has to specify the Act and the section of the Act which the defendant is alleged to be in breach of.

  • Example:  "David Chaytor MP ... was charged [2010] with three alleged offences under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 ('false accounting') ..."

Looking at Acts and Regulations

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - contents page
Freedom of Information Act 2000
contents page
Crown copyright HMSO

On the Net :

In libraries.  You used to be able to see copies of Acts and Regulations in the reference sections of some larger public libraries and college libraries.  You could photocopy them legitimately - see above.  However, nowadays most libraries have phased out paper copies. You're expected to use copies on the Internet.

Purchasing them.  You can buy up-to-date copies of Acts and Regulations from the Stationery Office Ltd (TSO) and via bookshops.  The purchase price is intended to cover printing and distribution costs only.

'Statutes in Force'.  This is a massive multi-volume loose-leaf publication (using ring binders).  It's produced by Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO) - a central government agency - in conjunction with The Stationery Office (TSO).  Subscribers to it (such as libraries) receive updated pages from time to time.  It comprises all Acts and Regulations which are still in force.  However, it's been largely superseded by copies on the Internet (see above).

Acts and Regulations - related web pages