Charity Commission refreshes meetings guidance amid second lockdown

Trustee meeting should still take place amid the second Covid-19 lockdown in England, the Charity Commission has confirmed.

But they are still expected to take place online, where possible.

The government introduced new social distancing restrictions on November 5, which will last for at least a month. These limit face to face contact and encourage people to work from home where possible.

In updated guidance, the regulator is keen to stress to charities that “you can still hold trustee or members’ meetings where these meetings are necessary for providing voluntary or charitable services”.

It is expected that charities will hold AGMs online, which is permitted by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 and applies until 30 December.

“For other types of meetings, or for any other type of charity, trustees need to check if their charity’s governing document allows them to hold meetings online or by telephone. Where it does not, an alternative may be to amend it to allow meetings to be held in this way,” states the guidance.

"We recognise that for some charities virtual meetings are not a viable solution, nor are socially distanced face-to-face meetings. In such instances trustees may consider they have no choice but to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings.”

The guidance adds: “Some charities have clauses in their governing documents that allow them to meet virtually or to use telephone facilities, so we advise trustees to check their governing document and see if they can make amendments themselves to facilitate changes as to how or when meetings are held.

"Generally, if there is no such clause in the governing document and you decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, we will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity.

The advice from the Charity Commission for Wales is different, as the principality has finished a local two-week lockdown from today (November 9).

The lockdown in Wales had seen the commission urge trustees to hold online or telephone meetings where possible but said if this was not possible, in person meetings could be held. The Commission has said it will update its guidance with the rules that will apply to Wales from today.

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