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Disqualification of Charity Trustees and Senior Managers

New rules on the automatic disqualification of individuals from charity trustee or senior management roles will come into effect on 1 August 2018.  

Is your charity ready for the changes? 

Check whether any of your existing trustees and senior managers will become disqualified under the new rules. If so, they will need to cease having that role or apply to the Charity Commission for a waiver if they want to be allowed to continue;

Make sure you have processes in place to check whether a person is disqualified, before appointing them to a trustee or senior manager role, and periodically to check that individuals in these roles have not become disqualified.

What is changing?

Under existing law, there already are a number of circumstances which automatically disqualify a person from being a trustee of a charity, including bankruptcy and unspent convictions for dishonesty and deception and disqualification from being a company director. For as long as the condition applies, an individual is disqualified unless the Charity Commission gives them a waiver. Acting in the position while disqualified is normally a criminal offence.

From 1 August 2018:- 

  • The list of circumstances which mean someone is automatically disqualified from being a charity trustee* will be extended. The new list of reasons for disqualification includes unspent convictions for bribery, terrorism and money laundering, misconduct in public office, perjury or perverting the course of justice and certain other circumstances such as being on the sex offenders register; 
  • A person disqualified from being charity trustee will also be automatically disqualified from being a senior manager** in a charity. The definition of senior manager** covers (paid or unpaid) roles which have (i) responsibility for overall management of the charity (so chief executive/director or equivalent role), and; (ii) overall control over finance (chief finance officer/finance director or equivalent).  

Individuals who are not currently disqualified, but who will be affected after 1 August (either because of the new triggering circumstances or because they are a senior manager), can apply to the Charity Commission for a waiver from disqualification. They can do this in advance from 1 February 2018.

The automatic disqualification rules do not disqualify people from all involvement with charities. There are other ways in which a disqualified person can be involved with charities, such employment in appropriate non-senior manager positions, volunteering, or in advisory roles.

More information

Read more in this longer article on NCVO’s knowhownonprofit website: knowhownonprofit.org/governance/improving-your-governance-practice/trustee-recruitment-and-induction/trustee-disqualification

Detailed guidance for charities from the Charity Commission on the new rules - and what charities need to know, consider and do – can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/automatic-disqualification-rule-changes-guidance-for-charities

Guidance for individuals can be found at: www.gov.uk/guidance/automatic-disqualification-rules-for-charity-trustees-and-charity-senior-positions

* A full list of the reasons for disqualification can be found here
** Specific guidance on what constitutes a senior manager can be found here

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