Finance & law, Governance

Charity law - Top tips on constitution and governance reviews

Guidance on understanding your constitution and conducting governance reviews.

Charity law – Constitution and governance reviews, detailed by Victoria Ehmann from Russell-Cooke

The pressure faced by the charity sector from all quarters continues to mount up. As media interest continues, politicians and in particular the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee have sought to call the Charity Commission and the wider charity sector to account. In response, the Commission is demonstrating the effectiveness of its regulatory role by continuing to emphasise trustees’ responsibilities and by exercising its statutory powers in issuing further guidance.

Now, more than ever, charity trustees need to educate themselves as to their responsibilities

The first place to look is their charity’s governing document.  We are always surprised by the number of trustees we meet who do not have an understanding of the legal structure of their charity, let alone the rules and regulations that govern its operation. Not only is it essential to understand what the trustees’ potential exposure to personal liability is, but the governing document also sets out the objects for which the organisation is established. All the charity’s activities should be focussed on achieving those objectives.

Understanding your constitution – what’s REALLY important

At the Charity Law Conference, Russell-Cooke’s “Understanding your constitution – what’s REALLY important” session will cover the key clauses that should be found in charity’s governing document regardless of their legal structure:

* objects and public benefit

* non distribution and trustee allowed payments

* dissolution clauses.

It is important to remember that the vast majority of charities need prior Commission consent to change those clauses.

We then focus on the governance requirements of charitable companies and charitable incorporated organisations. We set out what is required for each structure and what is optional and can be designed to suit your charity. We will also field questions on governance queries relating to other types of charity legal structures, such an unincorporated associations and trusts.

How to do a governance review and governance best practice

In our “How to do a governance review and governance best practice” session, James Sinclair-Taylor, partner at Russell-Cooke solicitors, considers the governance structures, policies and procedures which should be put in place to ensure that charities can meet the ever higher standards expected of them by the Charity Commission.

Understanding your legal structure and governance is absolutely critical to the successful running of a charity. Trustees must ensure that their charity’s key governing document remains fit for purpose and that the rules set out in that governing document are followed and supported by the charity’s wider governance policies.

Our sessions will help you understand and improve the governance of your organisation and enable you to run your charity more effectively.

Find out more information and book a place at the Charity Law Conference on 14 June here.