Trustees and recovery of funds

The Charity Commission has issued guidance on how it will approach recovery of funds from trustees.

The Charity Commission's guidance highlights and provides additional support to trustees informing them of its views on five key areas/statements:

  1. The commission takes very seriously cases where property is lost to the charity as a result of serious wrongdoing by trustees or others involved.
  2. Serious wrongdoing by charity trustees and others. 
  3. It is primarily the responsibility of the trustees to recover the property lost to the charity. 
  4. Where the trustees are unable or unwilling to do so, and the amount involved is significant and the breach of trust is sufficiently serious, the commission will not hesitate to use its powers of intervention and remedy to secure the recovery of lost funds. 
  5. In appropriate cases and exceptionally, the commission will consider bringing legal proceedings in the public interest with the Attorney General's consent to recover funds lost to charity. 

Throughout the guidance it is highlighted that the Charity Commission policy is for 'restitution and the recovery of charitable funds misappropriated or lost to charity in breach of trust', and that  'most trustees are volunteers and unremunerated for their work. Consequently they will not normally be held responsible for honest actions reasonably undertaken even if mistaken.'

However, the commission also warns that a higher bar exists for 'remunerated trustees and those possessed of special skills and expertise'.