15 February 2008

The Charities References in Documents (Scotland) Regulations 2007

1. Implementation

The Charities References in Documents (Scotland) Regulations 2007 (the ‘Regulations’) came into force on 1 April 2007 and will affect documents issued or signed on behalf of charities after 31 March 2008 or six months after the date of entry on the Register, whichever is later. Charities registered on or after 1 October 2007 therefore have a 6 month grace period to use up existing stocks of printed materials. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has advised that it will be acceptable for charities to amend existing printed material by hand, using stickers, or by any other means, so the necessary information is included.

The Regulations will apply to all charities entered on the Scottish Charity Register, including those charities also registered in another country or territory. Unlike in England and Wales, there is no exemption for charities with an income below a certain threshold. The Regulations apply regardless of where the documents are issued.

Where a charity is regulated in another jurisdiction and is required to comply with similar requirements in that jurisdiction, OSCR has said it will apply a ‘proportionate response’ to any breach of the Regulations for documents circulating outside Scotland.

The primary aim of the Regulations is to provide clarity to the general public as to whether or not a body has charitable status. Advertising charitable status should result in greater public confidence in the charity and support for its activities.

2. Information required

Documents must clearly state the following:

  • the charity’s name as entered in the Register;
  • any other name by which the charity is commonly known; and
  •  the charity’s Scottish Charity Number allocated to it at the time of registration.
  • Additionally, a charity whose name does not contain the word ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ must also state that it is a charity.

3. Documents covered

The Regulations specify that the following documents must incorporate the above information:

  • Business letters and emails;
  • Advertisements, notices and official publications;
  • Any document which solicits money or other property for the benefit of the charity;
  • Bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements and orders for money or goods;
  • Bills rendered;
  • Invoices, receipts and letters of credit;
  • Statements of account prepared in accordance with Regulations 8, 9 or 14 of the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006;
  • Educational or campaign documentation;
  • Conveyances which provide for the creation, transfer, variation or extinction of an interest in land; and
  • Contractual documentation.

The Regulations also cover documents issued or signed on behalf of the charity by a third party, for example a solicitor writing on a charity’s behalf or an accountant requesting payment from a body on the charity’s behalf.

Charities that are also registered in England and Wales should be aware that these requirements are different from their obligations under English law.

4. Charitable companies

The Companies (Registrar, Languages and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2006 came into effect on 1 January 2007 and also require companies to state certain information on the documents and correspondence they produce. They apply throughout the United Kingdom.

In addition to the above requirements, a charity that is also a company must include its name on all websites and electronic versions of letters, order forms, notices and official publications, invoices, receipts, cheques and letters of credit.

Also, all letters, emails, order forms and websites of the charity must state:

  •  the Company’s place of registration and its registered company number;
  • the address of its registered office; and
  • if its name does not include the word ‘limited’, the fact that it is a limited company.

Charities registered with OSCR before 1 October 2007 should update their stationery stocks or prepare other means of including the required information from 1 April.

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