Execution formalities—unincorporated charities
Execution formalities—unincorporated charities

The following Commercial practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Execution formalities—unincorporated charities
  • Capacity
  • Execution under signature
  • Signature by the majority of the trustees
  • Signature under delegated authority
  • Deeds
  • Who can act as a witness
  • HM Land Registry requirements

This Practice Note provides practical guidance on the execution of documents by unincorporated charities.

In this Practice Note, it is assumed the contract is in writing.


Unincorporated charities have no distinct legal personality, which means that, as an entity, an unincorporated charity has no rights or duties per se and is not entitled to own property in its own right. Property ‘belonging’ to an unincorporated charity will be vested in the leading members of the organisation who act as trustees and hold property on trust for the remaining members of the charity. The legal persons with the capability to enter into arrangements and execute documents will be the trustees or members of the charity.

As a general rule, this means all the trustees or members of an unincorporated charity would have to execute a contract or deed for it to be validly executed. However, the trustees can delegate authority to fewer of their number where it would be impractical to get signatures from all the trustees.

The trustees of an unincorporated charity have authority by virtue of section 333 of the Charities Act 2011 (CA 2011, s 333) to delegate the power to execute deeds and enter into agreements to two or more of their number.

CA 2011, s 333(4) provides a conclusive presumption of due execution. This means that where a deed or instrument purports to be executed

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