Changes to the automatic disqualification law could affect your leadership team: make sure you’re prepared

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17 January, 2018
From 1 August 2018, changes to the law will put greater restrictions on who can run a charity. The Government has published new guidance to help individuals (such as trustees and those in senior management positions) to find out if the new ‘automatic disqualification’ rules apply to them.
It has also published a guide for charities to help them understand automatic disqualification and the ways in which they must act to stay within the law.
What is automatic disqualification?
Under current rules, a person is disqualified from acting as a charity trustee, if certain legal disqualification reasons apply to them. These reasons are mainly bankruptcy related, and also include unspent convictions for crimes involving dishonesty or deception.
What is changing?
  1. The Charity Commission has increased the number of legal reasons that disqualify someone from acting as a trustee. These include being on the sex offenders’ register and certain unspent convictions (e.g. terrorism or money laundering).
  2. Those that are disqualified from being trustees are also disqualified from holding certain senior manager positions at a charity (e.g. Chief Executive (or equivalent) positions and Chief Finance Officer (or equivalent) positions).
You can view the full list of disqualification reasons ('current' and 'coming into force') here.
What steps must your organisation take to stay within the law?
Your organisation must not appoint a trustee who is disqualified under the current rules, including on an interim basis, unless their disqualification has been waived by the Charity Commission
Your organisation should have systems in place for identifying trustees who become disqualified after they have been appointed.
The Charity Commission acknowledges that there are circumstances in which waiving a person’s disqualification will be in the best interests of a charity or charities, because it will enable them to 'recruit and retain a well-qualified person who may otherwise be unavailable to them'.
In most circumstances a disqualified person can apply to the Charity Commission to waive their disqualification. They can do this at any time after they become disqualified. The trustees will need to say whether or not they support the application – addressing specific matters, described in this guidance.
The Charity Commission is urging people to apply for waivers as soon as possible - "ideally by 1st June 2018, to get a decision in good time".

Read Unlock's guidance for charities: "Leading Charities With Conviction"

Read the guidelines

Guide for charities

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