Charity trustees play an essential role in the success of charities and are responsible for the general control and management of the administration of the charity. Many charity trustees are also company directors with an extra set of director duties codified in the Companies Act 2006. It is important that each trustee understands their legal duties as they are individually and collectively responsible for everything that the charity does.
The duties of charity trustees are as follows: -
Golden Rules for charity trustees to adhere to: -
Record keeping is essential as a Trustee. This is the proof that you acted within your powers and with due diligence. It is also important that charity trustees seek professional advice when appropriate.
Serious incident reporting is another important responsibility. Any incident should be reported to the Commission promptly.
Charity trustees should also be mindful that any concern raised or serious incident report can result in a statutory inquiry. Concerns are often raised by members of the public or disgruntled trustees. If the Commission identify any misconduct or mismanagement, it has the power to investigate and open a statutory inquiry. The reporting of these inquiries are in the public domain and individual trustees can be suspended and even removed.
The risk of personal liability needs to be understood by trustees. In order to mitigate any personal risk, trustees should act in accordance with their constitution to promote the charitable purposes, acting diligently. Any breach of trust or duty could result in personal liability to a trustee and he/she will have to make good that loss to the charity.
Catherine Cooney, Partner with Worthingtons Solicitors advising charities and businesses on a daily basis. Regularly advising on charity trustee duties and liability, good governance, mergers and collaborations, serious incidents, concerns and insolvency. Catherine has been ranked in Chambers for the last two years in Charity Law in Northern Ireland and delivers board training to charity trustees and directors. For any charity law advice please telephone 02890279500 or email email@example.com