We bring you a brief round-up on some charity sector stories and developments.

A rose by any other name… [might not be permissible]” New rules on SCIO names

Since 1 January 2018, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs) appear in the (Companies House) Registrar’s Index of Company Names. Charities that are incorporated as companies already appear on the index.

SCIOs appearing on this index is, we think, a good thing. It further supports SCIO transparency and helps protect names. On the latter it does not remove the need for charities to consider steps to secure, utilise and protect intellectual property.

With this development, certain ‘sensitive’ words require additional process (involving new interaction with Companies House by applicant charities) and thought before they can be used for a SCIO.

Importantly, this is about names. This does not bring SCIOs into the company law regime or the need to report/file with Companies House.

We have real experience of what the new rules mean for SCIO establishment and can help you settle on the right name and navigate the new process and requirements.

A song and dance at the Royal Albert Hall? The proper management of conflicts of interest

There have been a number of reports about the Royal Albert Hall being referred to the Charity Tribunal by the Attorney-General as a result of certain governance concerns raised by the Charity Commission.

The key issue, it is understood, relates to potential conflicts of interest arising from 19 of the 24 trustees or members of council being elected from among people who own a quarter of the Hall’s seats and, importantly, can sell complimentary tickets for, according to BBC reports, “considerable profit” for themselves.

We shall see what the Charity Tribunal considers and decides after the Attorney-General’s referral. The issue of conflict of interest leads, in this case, to considerations of the appropriateness of the Hall’s constitution. A possible example of the benefits of reviewing and then considering and making changes (if merited) to a constitution before regulatory involvement.

With conflict of interest management and governance, it is important that trustees and others consider the legislative provisions about conflicts (they might not be what you think) as well as the conflict provisions set out in the constitution. For some charities, they might have to ‘blend’ legal rules to arrive at the conclusion (e.g. charity law + company law + constitutional terms = your charity’s conflict rules). That can be complex. There might also be other non-charities regulatory considerations.

The regulatory approach to the Hall also appears to highlight the Charity Commission’s aim to encourage charity trustees not just to manage conflict issues but to work to avoid them arising, particularly where the conflicts arise within the charity’s governance and constitutional structure itself.

We will monitor this case. In the meantime, trustees should consider the fundamentals of conflict of interests and understand what rules and requirements apply to their charity. There should also be proper processes for disclosing and recording interests as a ‘live’ experience rather than simply in annual register of interests update. Training can be a valuable and efficient way to appreciate the rules and expectations and ultimately help manage and avoid conflicts. Unmanaged actual or perceived conflict issues do cause interruptions to a charity’s activities and can ‘taint’ decision-making.

Seeing the woods for the trees. Legislative update on forestry and land management

For charities involved with forests, woodlands and similar land, we would highlight our land and rural business team’s update on the progress of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.

Forthcoming topics… the lending and movement of cultural items

We will be looking at this is some more detail in the first half of 2018. It is important that cultural works can and do move around the world to spread understanding, appreciation and enjoyment. It is also important that any movement is documented correctly to ensure any loan or transfer adheres to recognised museological standards or export license rules.

There was a great example of what can be lent this week. It has been announced (and expected to be confirmed today) that the Bayeux Tapestry (you will now be thinking arrow in the eye!) is set to be lent to and displayed in the UK for the first time in over 950 years.