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Insights // 11 April 2022

Charity Commission is Due to End its Flexible Approach to Meetings

Solicitor Emma Ford, in our Charities & Education team, explains the Charity Commission's updated guidance in relation to remote meetings.

Charities are urged to review the provisions of their governing documents in light of updated guidance from the Charity Commission regarding the ability of charities to hold remote meetings.

Since April 2020, charities have benefitted from temporary measures implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, permitting meetings to be held remotely. This flexibility ensured that the challenges of lockdown did not adversely affect the governance of charities or prevent trustees from carrying out their duties.

In line with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the Charity Commission has announced that this measure will come to an end on 22 April 2022.

From this date, charities will need to comply with the provisions of their governing documents in relation to the convening of meetings. It is important that charities consider if they wish to maintain the flexibility to hold AGMs and other meetings remotely, going forward. This would include holding meetings via online/virtual platforms, telephone or with a combination of remote and in-person attendance.

If it is considered that the charity should continue to benefit from this approach, the governing document will need to expressly provide for this. Charity trustees are urged to take the following steps:

  1. The governing document of the charity should be carefully reviewed to ascertain whether it meets the requirements of the charity and its governance.
  2. Trustees should ensure that any necessary amendment to the governing document is made as soon as possible in advance of 22 April. In most cases, a ‘power of amendment’ will be set out in the governing document, to permit the change to be made independently. The Charity Commission provides additional guidance on its website with regards to changing the governing document. Trustees should bear in mind that any amendments will need to be notified to the Charity Commission online.
  3. In the event that a charity is unable to amend its rules around meetings, it should refer to the Charity Commission for advice and authorisation. The guidance issued by the Charity Commission encourages charities in this position to notify them as soon as possible with their intentions.
  4. Trustees should bear in mind that any proposed changes to the governing document should be considered to be in the best interest of the charity, having regard to all of the circumstances. Trustees are advised to keep records of any decisions affecting the governance of the charity.

In general we would recommend that trustees obtain professional advice in relation to making decisions regarding their constitution, to ensure that they fully understand the implications and comply with not only the obligations set out in their constitutional documents regarding such changes, but also the Charities Act (and if appropriate, the Companies Act).

Our Charities & Education team would be pleased to provide further information on the above or in relation to other matters.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800.

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Emma Ford

Emma Ford

Solicitor, Corporate & Commercial

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