Complaints procedure

How to make a complaint about the Charity Commission.

There are separate procedures to:

Complain about the Charity Commission

You can complain to us about:

  • a service we have provided
  • a decision we have made
  • a freedom of information (FOI) or data protection decision

Complain about a service we’ve provided

We are committed to giving you the best service we can. But there may be a time you need to complain about a service we’ve provided.

This complaints procedure is for:

  • people who have used our services and aren’t happy
  • people who feel they haven’t received a service that we said we would provide

We will ensure that your complaint is:

  • treated seriously
  • handled fairly without bias or discrimination
  • treated confidentially

You should complain within 3 months of the event or outcome that you are complaining about. You need to tell us:

  • what you think went wrong
  • what you think we should do to put it right

When someone else complains on your behalf, we need written confirmation from you saying that you agree for them act for you.

Contact the commission to complain.

What happens next

At first, someone who has not been involved with your original case will look fairly at your case. Where possible, they will be at a more senior level than the original case worker. We consider:

  • complaints about the standard of service experienced
  • your dissatisfaction with a course of action within a case which the commission has carried out
  • your dissatisfaction as a result of a case which the commission has carried out

The reviewer will look into your complaint and will aim to respond to you within 30 working days. They will tell you the:

  • conclusions from their review
  • reasons for the outcome

If you’re not satisfied

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the first review, you have 1 month to ask for your complaint to be reviewed by a member of the business assurance team. They will look at how the first review was handled, specifically if it:

  • addressed the issues of your complaint
  • fixed any shortfalls in our service
  • conveyed the outcome clearly
  • was thorough and fair

They will aim to let you know the outcome within 30 working days. This will be our final response to your complaint. If you remain dissatisfied, you may wish to consider contacting the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

Complain about a decision by the Charity Commission

When we make decisions, we take a lot of trouble to make sure that we get them right. We recognise that trustees or people affected by the decision may feel that we are not correct and this is where our procedures to review decisions come in.

You can help us review our decision effectively by reading our guidance on requesting a review (PDF, 312KB, 28 pages) first.

Follow our set procedure to ask us to review a decision we’ve made.

Apply to the first-tier tribunal (charity)

In some cases, you can apply to the first-tier tribunal for a review of a decision. Schedule 6 of the Charities Act 2011 sets out the types of decision they deal with and who can request an appeal or apply for a review.

You can read further guidance about which decisions we can review and what the tribunal can investigate, in annex A of our guidance on requesting a review (PDF, 312KB, 28 pages) .

Make your complaint to the first tier tribunal.


First-tier Tribunal (Charity) Manager
Tribunals Operational Support Centre
PO Box 9300

Telephone: 0300 123 4504

What happens next

You’ll need to request an internal review within 3 months of the date you received a response from us.

Where we agree to conduct a decision review, the process will usually be conducted within a maximum of 3 months. The process is managed by the litigation and review team within the Charity Commission’s Legal Services. The decision following the decision review process is the final decision.

Complaints about FOI or data protection

When you ask us for information under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act, we will review your request and provide you with all of the information we are able to release.

We may not always be able to release all of the information you have asked for. This might be because certain information is exempt from release to the public. In FOI cases we may also decline to supply information if it would be too expensive for us to gather the information you are seeking in the form you have requested.

You can ask us to review our response, as long as your case isn’t older than 3 months.

For more information, read How to make a freedom of information (FOI) request.

Tell us why you think our decision is wrong and exactly what additional information you would like us to release.


What happens next

Once we have received your request, we’ll allocate it to a member of staff who will consider if the provisions of the relevant act have been applied correctly.

A senior member of staff, usually a commission lawyer, will review the complaint. In most cases, we will complete our review within 20 working days of receiving your request in freedom of information reviews, and 40 days for subject access request reviews. We will tell you at the start how long we think the review will take and will let you know if that timescale changes.

Once we make our decision, we will write to tell you the result of our review. This will be our final decision. If we agree to release further information to you, this will usually be included with our response. Occasionally, we may need to send you the information separately. We will tell you if this is the case.

If you’re not satisfied

If you remain dissatisfied with our decision, you can contact the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the independent statutory body which regulates the operation of the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Data Protection Act.

Your application should be made to the ICO within 2 months of the receipt of our final decision.