More on dissolving chartered corporations
UCU policy people have alerted me to this document available from the Cabinet Office on dissolving public bodies. It contains a section on how to ‘surrender Royal Charters’.
3.1 A Charter can be revoked by an Act of Parliament or by the Sovereign. Technically, a Charter can also become forfeit through action in the Courts alleging impropriety, but this has not been used in modern times. In practice, a chartered body is normally dissolved through voluntary action culminating in a Petition for Surrender. This is done by the body petitioning The Queen in Council to accept the surrender of its Charter. The Petition is accompanied by an appropriate Deed of Surrender together with the original Charter bearing he Great Seal (and any Supplemental Charters). All these documents should be sent to the Privy Council Office. Acceptance of the surrender is signified by an Order in Council, which usually recites the terms of the Deed of Surrender. The chartered body ceases to exist from the date on which such an Order in Council is made.
This suggests that College of Law could faciliate an outright sale by first approaching the Queen directly to surrender its Royal Charter. This would be an alternative to the private Act of Parliament discussed in an earlier post.
What this document reinforces is the point that chartered corporations are in a different position to universities that have other corporate forms, such as ‘company limited by guarantee’ or ‘higher education corporation’. Those last two forms could become subisidiaries of for-profit companies. Chartered corporations would appear to have to dissolve themselves in entirety prior to a sale of assets etc.
The difference between the private College of Law and other universities can be seen in Section 11.
As a matter of general policy, when a non-Exchequer body disposes of assets (either tangible or intangible) which were wholly or partly funded by grants or grants-in-aid, the proceeds or an appropriate portion of them should be paid to the Exchequer.
College of Law does not have such assets. “Public” universities do but the matter would be resolved with a financial transaction. Paragraphs 4.35 & 4.36 of the 2011 White Paper should be read in this context: the ‘wider public interest’ is simply a fair price.