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The Charity Commission's New Automatic Disqualification Powers

08 March 2018

The government has published updated guidance setting out how the new automatic disqualification rules (which come into effect from 1 August 2018) will restrict who can run charities and how disqualified individuals may apply for waivers in limited circumstances (view). The changes are part of the phased implementation of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016.

The key changes to the automatic disqualification rules are that:

  • the legal reasons that disqualify an individual from acting as a trustee now include being on the sex offenders’ list and having certain unspent convictions; and
  • individuals disqualified from acting as a trustee will also be disqualified from senior management positions within charities, such as Chief Executive and Chief Finance Officer positions (or equivalent) e.g. Headmaster and other member of the senior leadership team (SLT).

Since 1 February 2018, people who will become automatically disqualified under the new rules may apply to the Charity Commission for a waiver. The Charity Commission has stated that it will give waivers where this is in the best interests of the charity and it is not likely to damage public trust and confidence.

If someone makes an application for a waiver between 1 February and 1 August 2018 their disqualification under the new rules will not take effect until the Charity Commission has reached a decision and any appeal has been decided.

If someone makes an application for a waiver between 1 February and 1 August 2018 their disqualification under the new rules will not take effect until the Charity Commission has reached a decision and any appeal has been decided.

All independent schools which are charities should be preparing for the changes by:

  1. ensuring that their pre-appointment checks are sufficient;
  2. reviewing relevant employment contracts and checking that their SLT and trustees will not be effected by the new automatic disqualification provisions; and
  3. arranging for any affected trustees/ members of the SLT to sign declarations to confirm they may still act as trustees/be employed.

The government is expected to make further additions to the guidance once the new disqualification rules are implemented. It is unlikely that very many schools will be affected by these changes but it is wise to have an awareness of the changes.

By Kenji Batchelor

For further advice on the above topics, please call us on 01483 543210 or alternatively email enquiries@barlowrobbins.com

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