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Commission seeks advice on maiden trustee decision-making guidance

The Charity Commission has released draft guidance on principles to encourage better decision-making by trustees.

The publication, named It’s your decision – guidance on decision making for charity trustees, is the first time the Commission has produced guidance that focuses specifically on helping trustees make better decisions.

Feedback from trustees is requested for the guidance which focuses on seven key principles trustees should follow in making decisions:

  • that they should act within their powers;
  • act in good faith and only in the interests of the charity;
  • adequately inform themselves;
  • take into account all relevant factors;
  • disregard any irrelevant factors;
  • manage conflicts of interest;
  • and make decisions that are within the range of decisions that a reasonable trustee body would make.

The Commission stressed that this is not a formal consultation. No change to trustees' legal responsibilities are being made, and the principles in the guidance are not new – they are informed by court cases involving trustees' decisions. “We have not set them out like this before and we want to make sure that we have explained them as clearly and helpfully as we can,” the regulator explained in a statement.

Encouraging autonomy
The Commission hopes that as well as improving confidence and clarity for trustees on their decision-making responsibilities, it will encourage autonomy – reducing trustees' need to go to the Commission for advice, since “[it] does not run or direct charities and it is for trustees to determine what is in a charity’s best interest”.

In doing so it advises trustees on how to handle disagreements, makes it clear when trustees actually do need to ask the Commission for help and under what circumstances it would intervene.

Jane Hobson, head of policy at the Charity Commission, said: “It’s important for trustees to feel reassured that, so long as they follow certain key principles, they are unlikely to be challenged by us as regulator – even if their decisions meet with criticism. I would like to encourage trustees and their advisers to read the draft guidance and share their views and any suggestions with us." 

How to comment
The Commission is advising trustees to read the draft guidance on its website here, and then email any comments to [email protected] before 30 March 2013.

This article was taken from Civil Society – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/14368