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Registered Charities

Recent changes to the Charities Act

The Charities Amendment Act 2012 has made three changes to the Charities Act.

What are they, and how do they affect your charity?

First change

All registered charities must tell the Charities Commission if a certified officer becomes disqualified.

What does this mean for your charity?

Your charity may need to take action now or in the future.

This is because your charity won’t continue to qualify for registration if an officer becomes disqualified after they have been certified. For example, if an officer becomes bankrupt part way through their term of office.

You will need to check that your certified officers still qualify as officers under the Charities Act 2005 and then you must tell us if any don’t still qualify.

Our information sheet Disqualified officers lists the factors that disqualify an officer and details your options if one of your officers has become disqualified.

If an officer has become disqualified, you must send us a Notification of change for a disqualified officer form - Form 8.

How can you be sure your officers still qualify?

We suggest that you regularly ask them to confirm that they are still qualified to be officers. For example, you could do this each year prior to your Annual General Meeting.

You could ask each officer to fill out a checklist,.

Our Monitoring and Investigations team will start contacting charities later this year to confirm that they are not operating with disqualified officers.

Second change

Charities must certify as officers the members of their highest governing body and all those in a position to have significant influence over the management or administration of the charity. This change does not apply to trusts.

What does this mean for your charity?

If your charity is a trust there is no change ‒ your officers are your trustees and no one else.

If your charity is not a trust – for example, if it’s an Incorporated Society – you may have to complete an Officer Certification form – Form 2 for additional officers next time you file an Annual Return. (We will remind you.)

This is because the definition of officers has widened (except for trusts), to include the members of your highest governing body and those in a ‘position to have ‘significant influence’ over your management or administration.

What is a ‘position of significant influence’?

Positions of significant influence are voluntary or paid positions that have significant influence over your charity’s:

Positions of significant influence include:

Also, you may need to certify as an officer anyone in the charity who could direct a personal benefit or a business advantage to themself or anyone else. This may be someone who could influence the letting of a contract to a close business associate or family member.

If in doubt, we suggest you certify people that you think may be officers, rather than not certifying them.

See our information sheet Officer certification for more details.

Third change

The promotion of amateur sport may be a charitable purpose if it is the means by which the relief of poverty, or the advancement of education or religion or the provision of another benefit to the community is pursued.

What does this mean for your charity?

This change clarifies the definition of charitable purpose in relation to amateur sport. You won’t need to take any action in relation to this change.

The Commission has already registered a number of amateur sports organisations that fulfil charitable purposes. This change will not have any impact on any currently registered sports charities.