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The big issue

1 February 2011

Volunteering for a charity is an act of selflessness. It’s about giving some- thing back with no expectation of personal gain, and a lot of the smaller, less affluent charities would not be able to operate without volunteers. But the issue of whether charities’ liability should be restricted on the sole basis that many are run on a shoestring is not a satisfactory response both in law and in practice.

The Court of Appeal favoured a charity-friendly approach in its ruling in X v West Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau which has been widely welcomed by the third sector. An unpaid volunteer asked to cease volunteering was not covered by anti-discrimination provisions applicable to employees.

There is no questioning the good work charities do and how much they rely on unpaid volunteers and the risk litigation poses to many charities is a real one. But being a volunteer should not come without protection either.

Charities are already exposed to the threat of l...

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