Exemption allowing any charity to hold remote meetings set to be scrapped by regulator

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Third Sector
30 March, 2022

The Charity Commission has updated its online guidance for charities to say that AGMs, member or trustee meetings must now be held in person unless the organisation's governing body specifically permits otherwise.

Because of the pandemic, the regulator has allowed charities in England and Wales to hold meetings remotely regardless of what was permitted in their official documents since April 2020.

Paul Latham, director of communications and policy at the Charity Commission, said: “We’ve taken a flexible and supportive approach to regulation during the pandemic, being understanding when charities have had to hold meetings outside of the terms of their governing document.

“As restrictions have been lifted it’s right that charities return to meeting the requirements of their governing document or making the necessary changes to allow them to hold meetings in the way that works best for them.”

This means any charity wanting to hold meetings using remote methods will need to update their governing documents accordingly.

"As restrictions have now been lifted and trustees have been able to move back to meeting in person, we have reviewed our approach and, from 22 April 2022, charities wishing to hold meetings online, by telephone, remotely or a combination of remotely and in person will need to make sure their governing document allows this,” the regulator said in a statement.

The regulator said it also wanted to remind charities that they no longer had an automatic right to apply for a Covid-related filing extension for annual documents, which was introduced during the pandemic.

The ability for charities to do this was removed last year, meaning charities must again submit their annual returns within 10 months of the end of the financial year, but the commission said it was still receiving applications from charities for such extensions.