Charities—governing documents
Charities—governing documents

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Charities—governing documents
  • Charitable trust
  • Charitable company
  • Charitable incorporated organisation
  • Industrial and provident societies and community benefit societies
  • Charitable Royal Charter body
  • Charitable corporation established by Act of Parliament
  • Charity trustees incorporated under Charities Act 2011
  • Unincorporated association
  • Friendly societies
  • more

Charities can adopt a variety of different legal forms or structures. A charity’s governing documents will depend on the form or structure adopted. In addition, a charity’s governance may also be affected by both common law principles and statutory provisions.

This Practice Note discusses the different legal forms or structures a charity may adopt, and the governing documents required for each legal form of charity.

Charitable trust

According to the nature of the trust property, a trust (including a charitable trust) may be created by deed, evidenced in writing (as in the case of land, under Law of Property Act 1925, s 52(1)(b)), or created orally.

Consequently, look for the terms of the trust, or evidence of them, in whatever medium that was sufficient to allow the trust to be created or recorded.

In practice, where the terms of a charitable trust are in writing they are likely to comprise any of the following:

  1. a declaration of trust, or trust deed

  2. a will

  3. a scheme which has been devised by the Charity Commission

  4. the terms of a charitable appeal

The Charity Commission has published a model form of trust deed for charitable trusts.

Charitable company

A charitable company is a company that:

  1. is registered under the Companies Act 2006 (CA 2006) in England and Wales or Scotland, and

  2. fulfils the conditions for charitable