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11th June 2015

New Charity Commission Guidance on Trustees’ Duties

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The Charity Commission aims to publish revised guidance in early July, substantially affecting the expectations on all charity trustees.

So what’s changing?

First, a reminder. This guidance, and the legal principles underpinning it, applies to all charities irrespective of size, sector, legal structure, or whether or not registered with the Charity Commission. That last point brings in universities and colleges, academies and maintained schools, PCC’s, housing associations and community benefit societies.

As to what is changing. the headline issue is the Charity Commission’s approach. The legal principles as to the duties of trustees have not changed and thus triggered this revised guidance. However, the Charity Commission is asserting a more robust and uncompromising position as regulator. Expectations are higher and intervention is contemplated for charities which fall-short other regulator’s expectations. This may be backed up in due course with enhanced powers for the Commission in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill.

You might think a more assertive approach should be reflected by very clear rules and expectations so trustees know exactly what is expected of them. However, the draft revised guidance (on which there was a public consultation earlier this year) included a dangerous muddle of legal duties, regulatory expectations and good practice recommendations. It remains to be seen if this has been rectified in the new version.

Hewitsons is hosting seminars to outline and discuss the new guidance. These are being held on 2 and 9 July in Northampton and Cambridge.

See our Charities law services page for more information or click here to email Chris Knight.