Australian Bush Fire Appeal Funds Highlight Importance of Current ULCC Consultation on Crowdfunding
8 January 2020
By Greg Blue, Q.C.
Huge amounts have been raised for relief of victims of the Australian bush fires in a very short time through worldwide online crowdfunding. One online campaign alone that was started by an Australian celebrity on Facebook has raised Aus. $42.5 million (at the time of this blog’s publication). The enormous donor response has given rise to the same kinds of issues surrounding the use and allocation of the appeal funds that were dealt with successfully in the aftermath of the Humboldt Broncos bus disaster under the Saskatchewan legislation based on the Uniform Informal Public Appeals Act (UIPAA). The Australian organizations and officials in receipt of the donated funds are reported in the media to be pondering how to meet the expectations of donors regarding their distribution and application.
Unlike the circumstances of the Humboldt Broncos case, however, the disaster victims and the catastrophic events that caused their losses are not concentrated in one jurisdiction, but spread over several Australian states. This factor alone emphasizes the importance of the current consultation being carried out by a Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) Working Group on amendments that will update the UIPAA to deal with the reality of crowdfunding via the internet and social media, and the cross-border complications it raises.
The ULCC consultation on crowdfunding updates to the UIPAA is open until 15 January 2020. Visit unilaw.ca, where you can download the consultation paper and respond using the online comment form (at the bottom of the page) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.