The Charity Commission has taken the quite drastic step of seeking to engage the Charity Tribunal in respect of its efforts to persuade the trustees of the Royal Albert Hall to amend its constitution.
The Royal Albert Hall is governed by an 1866 Royal Charter (subsequently amended by various Acts of Parliament). The process of amending a Royal Charter is complex, involving the Privy Council Office and it appears from the report below that the Charity Commission has been unable to encourage the trustees to take action.
The central issue is in respect of the private, or personal, benefits that trustees of the charity enjoy (or have the power to enjoy). It is reported that 19 of 25 the charity's "Ruling Council" (i.e. the board of trustees) are seat holders at the hall. This enables them to sell tickets privately at inflated prices, something the Royal Charter currently permits, but at face value, is clearly at odds with the basic principles underlying charity trusteeship.
It will be interesting to see how the Charity Tribunal responds. The Commission, always under financial pressure, clearly feels its argument has merit. Perhaps this "unprecedented" step might result in the trustees gaining the appetite for the change that the Commission is keen to see.
“The perception that charity trustees are in a position to benefit financially from their role is very damaging. We have been engaged with the charity for a number of years to address concerns about the charity’s governance, yet the trustees have been unwilling to deal with a number of the central issues to our satisfaction in a timely manner." “Further, because of the lack of progress addressing the central issue, along with its complexity, we have taken the unprecedented step of seeking the consent of the Attorney General to refer a number of questions to the Charity Tribunal relating to the charity and the exercise of the Commission’s regulatory powers."