From 1 August 2018 the charity automatic disqualification rules have changed. What does this mean and what should charities do?

What are automatic disqualification rules?

There are rules which disqualify certain people from being a trustee or senior manager of a charity. If you are disqualified it means that you can’t take on, or stay in, a charity trustee position or senior manager position, including on an interim basis, unless the Charity Commission has removed the disqualification.

The disqualifying reasons table

You are not allowed to act as a charity trustee or senior manager if any of the reasons shown in the automatic disqualifying reasons table apply to you. New reasons that were recently added include being in contempt of court, being named under particular anti-terrorism legislation or being on the sex offenders register.

Be aware that there are also other rules that may place a restriction on you being a charity trustee or holding certain positions at a charity. For example, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) rules which include who is eligible to work or volunteer with children and other vulnerable groups and the Charity Commission Orders can also disqualify someone from being a trustee.

The automatic disqualification rules only apply to England and Wales and do not disqualify people from all involvement with charities. In addition, it does not apply if your conviction is spent. More information around convictions can be found here.

Waivers

If you are disqualified, you can, in most situations, apply to the Charity Commission to waive your disqualification. It’s important to note that you can do this at any time after you become disqualified. If a waiver is granted it will bring your disqualification to an end in respect of the charities named in the waiver.

Familiarise yourself with the guidance

If you are involved in a charity, make sure you read the Charity Commission guidance for charities. They recommend that you ask your trustees and senior managers to confirm that they are not disqualified. To that end they have produced sample declarations for senior managers and trustees to state that they are not disqualified from acting in these positions. You can download these from the guidance for charities.

Consequences 

There may be serious consequences if you are acting as a trustee or manager whilst being disqualified, including a potential fine, imprisonment or having to repay money received from the charity during this period.

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