Court Decision on Charity Payments Reserved
31 October 2012 at 9:26 am
Legal experts claim that millions of charity dollars are potentially at stake due to a Melbourne City Council (MCC) appeal in the Supreme Court where the judge’s decision has been reserved to a future date.
PilchConnect, a legal service for the Not for Profit sector, says the MCC has sought to pocket funds directed to charities from court proceedings by challenging the power of Magistrates to require offenders to make financial contributions to charities.
PilchConnect says it opposed the MCC action after PilchConnect’s submission to provide expert advice to the court as ‘an amicus’ was successful (‘an amicus’ is the legal term for advice from persons that is not party to the case, but who volunteer to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it).
PilchConnect’s Director, Juanita Pope said the outcome of the case will have a significant impact on the charitable sector.
The MCC appealed an August 2011 decision requiring an individual who pleaded guilty to breaching the Food Act to make a donation to St Vincent De Paul’s food van service.
“Someone has to stand up for the sector. Charities operate with limited resources to help communities and the disadvantaged. Where Courts can help charities, we should be supporting them,” Pope said.
Pope said there is a long tradition of Courts making orders that offenders pay funds to relevant charities or into a court fund for charities.
“This approach works for both charities, and for the rehabilitation of offenders, who are given the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution back to the community.
“The Magistrates’ Court has a broad power to impose special conditions when releasing an offender without conviction. Making a payment to a charity is a common special condition.”
PilchConnect was represented on a pro bono basis by Andrew Woods and Samuel Bird of Counsel and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.
Justice Dixon reserved his decision to a date to be fixed.