non-profit-fact-sheets

Non-Profit Fact Sheets

What is an Organisation formed by Royal Charter or by Special Act of Parliament?


Published: August 20, 2013

Read Time: 2 minutes

Royal charter special act

When establishing a non-profit organisation, founders can choose from a large range of legal forms. An organisation’s legal structure will determine the types of activities it is legally able to carry out and which government bodies it is required to seek registration from or report to. An organisation formed by royal charter or by special Act of parliament are two possible structures of a non-profit organisation. Find out more about the other types of legal structures here.

Some of the oldest and largest non-profits in Australia take one or other of these legal forms, however, new organisations adopting these structures are now established very rarely.

In the past organisations formed by royal charter were administered by the Prime Minister’s Office, but it now “ avoid[s] recommendation of such nonprofit forms”1.

This form has often been used to incorporate or establish significant organisations. A few examples of these types of organisation are Scouts Australia, The University of Sydney, The University of Tasmania and Engineers Australia.

Organisations formed by special Act of Parliament are established when it is “demonstrated to the government of the day that the organisation is substantial and cannot be accommodated under other incorporating statuses”.

Many universities and religious bodies have been incorporated by a special Act of Parliament. The University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland, the National Library of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria are examples of organisations established through special Act of Parliament.

Organisations conforming within either of these structures are complicated and expensive to establish. They must comply with the specific act or charter relating to their establishment, often called their “constituting documents”.

Organisations formed by Royal Charter or by Special Act of Parliament: Frequently Asked Questions

Organisations formed by special Act of Parliament are established when it is 'demonstrated to the government of the day that the organisation is substantial and cannot be accommodated under other incorporating statuses'. Organisations conforming within either of these structures are complicated and expensive to establish. They must comply with the specific act or charter relating to their establishment, often called their 'constituting documents'

 


  1. Myles McGregor-Lowndes article “Template for Comparative Country Studies on Laws and Regulations Governing Charitable Organizations” for “International Charity Law: Comparative Seminar”, Beijing China October 12-14, 2004 ↩︎



This fact sheet is intended as a simple overview. Non-profit law is incredibly complex and there are many components, allowances, restrictions, exceptions and important qualifications that are not described above. Dedicated legal advice should be sought from a legal practitioner before taking action.

Author

About

Better Boards connects the leaders of Australasian non-profit organisations to the knowledge and networks necessary to grow and develop their leadership skills and build a strong governance framework for their organisation.

Found this article useful or informative?

Join 5,000+ not-for-profit & for-purpose directors receiving the latest insights on governance and leadership.

Receive a free e-book on improving your board decisions when you subscribe.

Unsubscribe anytime. We care about your privacy - read our Privacy Policy here.