The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, which will reinforce and improve the regulation of charities operating in Scotland, received Royal Assent on 14 July 2005. Most of the provisions in the Act are expected to come into force around April 2006.
Under present arrangements, there is no requirement under statute in Scotland specifically for charities to identify themselves as a charity on legal documents, letters or in information given to the public. Contrast this with the position in England and Wales, where there is a statutory requirement for a registered charity with a gross income of more than £10,000 to state legibly the fact that it is a registered charity in a variety of documents, including notices, advertisements and other documents issued by the charity. Certain types of charities, such as registered companies are already required under separate legislation such as the Companies Acts to identify themselves as a charity.
Having a requirement that charities clearly identify themselves on appropriate documentation will increase transparency and allow parties dealing with a charity to know in advance of any dealings, the nature of the entity they are working with, including any restrictions that they may be under as a consequence of their status.
The Scottish Executive has therefore issued a consultation paper setting out proposals for the situations and ways in which charities in Scotland will have to identify themselves as charities and the types of documents in which they will have to do this.
Issues for respondents to consider include: whether all charities should have to follow the same mandatory requirements for references in documents, or whether there could be a financial threshold under which smaller charities would be exempt; whether there should be any changes in the requirements for charities which are registered as companies; which categories of documents should require mandatory identification information, and what that information should comprise. The consultation also suggests that an appropriate lead-in period of say 12 months would be suitable to allow charities to use up their existing stocks of stationery (which may not comply with the regulations) and make the necessary changes to other documents.
Responses to the consultation are sought by 13 December 2005. The full text of the Consultation paper and instructions for responding are available from the website of the Scottish Executive at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2005/09/15143400/34013