From August 2018 new stricter rules on the automatic disqualification of acting as a charity trustee or senior employee came into effect

Trustees are the foundation of a good charity. Through them the charity acts and carries out its charitable purpose. Since most charities are reliant on voluntary donations it is essential that trustees are honest and accountable. To enforce this there are rules on the automatic disqualification of trustees – which up until this point - have largely been concerned with convictions for deception or dishonesty offences.

What are the new rules?

New rules, which came into effect in August, extend the list of offences leading to automatic disqualification. This now includes unspent convictions (that is those that remain on an individual’s criminal record) for bribery, terrorism and money laundering and certain other circumstances such as contempt of court and being on the sex offenders register.

Another key aspect of the new rules is that automatic disqualification applies to employed members of the charity that have control of the day-to-day charity management and its finances – most likely the chief executive or chief finance officer – but not necessarily. It’s the activities the role performs, not the name of the role which is important.

Why do I need to know this?

Acting whilst disqualified is a criminal offence punishable by a term of imprisonment or a fine or both. The Charity Commission also has powers to order a paid employee to repay their salary while acting disqualified.

What should I do…

A charity should have in place checks and systems when recruiting trustees and senior staff members and similar ones to identify trustees or senior staff members who may become disqualified after they have been appointed. If you identify someone who is already appointed, they should cease to act immediately. The Charity Commission has a waiver process in place to allow someone who is automatically disqualified to continue acting (but only once the waiver is issued).

If you need help navigating the new rules or would like us to review your charity processes, we would be happy to assist you. Please contact us Andrew Price on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 020 7821 8211.

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