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Charity Serious Incident Reporting - New Charity Commission Guidance

Posted on 20th January 2020 in Charities and Social Enterprise

Posted by

James Evans

Partner and Solicitor
Charity Serious Incident Reporting - New Charity Commission Guidance

Charity Commission Guidance

Just before Christmas, with very little fanfare, the Charity Commission released new guidance on the responsibility of charity trustees to make Serious Incident Reports (‘SIRs’) to the Charity Commission where the incident involves one of the charity’s partners either in the UK or internationally.

The guidance is important reading for all charity trustees and those involved with the charity’s compliance, and can be viewed here.

The guidance is helpful as in our experience, trustees are sometimes unclear whether they need to make a SIR where the incident involves a partner organisation rather than the charity itself.

What counts as a 'partner'?

Examples of partners could include:

  • delivery partners or sub-contractors;
  • subsidiary trading companies;
  • organisations which receive funding or staff/volunteer support from your charity;
  • another charity or organisation that is linked to your charity, for example as part of a federated or umbrella structure and/or where it shares the same brand with your charity.

The new guidance supplements the Charity Commission’s existing guidance on Serous Incident Reporting and sets out guiding principles to help trustees decide if an SIR is needed.

Importantly, the guidance reminds trustees that they need to consider making an SIR in this situation, where it materially affects the charity, its staff, operations, finances and/or reputation.

The guidance does, however, highlight that:

"where there is a federated structure of charities operating in different locations in England and Wales and an incident happens in one local charity, we [the Commission] would generally only expect that local charity and the national/umbrella body to consider whether to report.”

In relation to incidents involving the charity’s funds, brand, people or an activity that it funds or is responsible for, the starting point for trustees should be:

“if they would have reported the incident if it had happened in their charity, they should carefully consider reporting any incidents involving partners.”

Further advice

For further advice on charity serious incident reporting please contact James Evans or other members of our charities team.

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