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Name, rank and number

17 March 08

New rules require charities to make their status clear in a specified range of documents

by Janette Wilson

Those who act for charities, or are involved in property transactions with charities, should take note of the Charities References in Documents (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (SSI 2007/203). The regulations came into force in April 2007 but affect all relevant documents issued or signed after 31 March 2008 on behalf of all charities entered on the Scottish Charity Register, regardless of their size. New charities require to comply within six months of being entered on the register.

Documents must contain the charity’s name as it appears in the register and any other name by which it is commonly known, its charity number and, except where its registered name includes the term “charity” or “charitable”, one of the following terms:

  • charity;
  • charitable body;
  • registered charity;
  • charity registered in Scotland;
  • Scottish charity; or
  • registered Scottish charity.

The specified documents cover a wide range, and in particular include “conveyances which provide for the creation, transfer, variation or extinction of an interest in land”, all business letters and emails, advertisements, bills, accounts, contracts and campaigning documentation. Bills of exchange and promissory notes are also covered. However, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (“OSCR”) has indicated that it will not enforce the requirements so far as cheques are concerned, as the Scottish Government intends to amend the regulations to exclude them. Documents produced for internal circulation – for example among charity trustees and volunteers – do not have to comply, but those between a subsidiary charity and its parent do.

Charitable companies need in addition to observe the requirements of the Companies (Registrar, Languages and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/3429), which came into effect on 1 January 2007 and require companies to state certain information on documents and correspondence.

In addition to including the information in formal conveyancing and contractual documents, solicitors will have to take care to include it in all correspondence and any other relevant documents such as rent notices which they send out on behalf of charity clients. Breach of the regulations may result in the charity and its trustees themselves being penalised. Where the breach has been by the charity’s solicitor, it is to be assumed that a complaint by the charity could result in a finding of inadequate professional service against the solicitor.

OSCR has issued guidance on the regulations which can be downloaded from its website www.oscr.org.uk .

Janette Wilson, Convener, Conveyancing Committee