All charities are regulated in one or more ways. Many are regulated by the Charity Commission, others by principal regulators such as the Office for Students and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.
Other regulatory regimes also apply because of what specific charities do. Those providing care will be regulated by the CQC, others providing accommodation will be regulated by the TSA; and almost all charities will be regulated by HMRC in relation to their tax affairs.
Regulation can be a burden. But it is also an intrinsic part of the status of the charity sector in the eyes of the public - and an obvious requirement in return for the tax breaks which most charities are able to take advantage of.
The Charity Commission published its new Strategy for Dealing with Safeguarding Issues in Charities in December 2017, identifying a comprehensive duty on all charities and their trustees to protect from harm the charity's beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and others who come into contact with the charity.
The subsequent regulatory alert published by the Commission included a clear call to action for trustees of all charities, not only those working with groups traditionally considered at risk, to:
More recently, safeguarding has been identified by the Commission as one of the three key strategic risk areas prioritised in its latest risk framework and this year's safeguarding summits aim to result in commitment to actions to strengthen the charity sector's safeguarding capacity and capability.
The Commission expects trustees to understand their safeguarding duties and responsibilities and to ensure adequate measures are in place to assess and address safeguarding risks.
Our clients look to us for legal advice and support which reflects the requirements and expectations of the Charity Commission and any other regulator with oversight of what they do. This can range from support on day to day operational compliance through to advice on the big strategic decisions that trustees are sometimes faced with and where there is likely to be a regulatory interest in the outcome.
Engagement with the regulators themselves is often key. We work hard to ensure that we build strong and constructive working relationships with them which will serve our clients' interests.
We ensure that the impact of the regulatory regime to which a charity is subject informs all of the advice that we give, from day to day advice on employment and property issues through to major strategic decision about mergers and restructuring.
We also have extensive experience of dealing with the questions raised by regulators where a trustees' decision may be challenged and how best to deal with the risks that may be raised as a result.
We believe that a clear understanding of the regulatory regime within which a charity operates is fundamental to its effective governance. We can support this in your charity through our email bulletin, Charity Law Brief and with bespoke training for your trustee body and senior management team to keep you up to date with the latest changes in regulation.
We work hard to maintain good working relationships with key people at the Charity Commission (we are an "approved intermediary") which helps us find practical and cost efficient solutions, although we are equally experienced at challenging the Commisson's decisions where necessary or desirable.
The quality of service is strong, but always balanced with a practical viewpoint. Advice is therefore not excessively legalistic and can be implemented more easily than would be possible with a more technical approach.