Jatinder Gosal, Chair
A non-practising solicitor with over 20 years of investing, corporate finance and legal experience. Jatinder currently provides independent strategic advice to companies from early stage to publicly-listed. Other voluntary roles have included providing legal advice at a law centre in Tower Hamlets, governor of schools in Tower Hamlets and Richmond upon Thames, and treasurer of a sports club in Wimbledon.
Raj Patel, Treasurer
Raj is a Chartered Accountant with over 40 years public practice experience of personal and corporate taxation, statutory audits, accountancy, and general commercial advice for SME businesses. He has also worked in insolvency and has a good understanding of personal debt related issues. He is now semi-retired.
Caroline lives in Lambeth and works as a consultant and coach. She volunteers for Home-Start Lambeth and is a governor of a Lambeth primary school. Caroline has 17 years experience as an NHS chief executive. She has been a member of a range of NHS and partnership boards.
A trustee since 2016, Alan is a Deputy Director in the Cabinet Office. Before this, he has held a variety of policy, strategy and operational roles across central Government. He lives in Lambeth.
Kirsty is a strategy consultant. She helps both private and public sector clients to improve their services for customers and citizens, and to adapt to technological and social change. She lives in Lambeth
Elizabeth joined as a trustee in 2019. She leads engagement with tech companies as part of her job at the Home Office. Prior to this she has spent eight years in a variety of policy, delivery and corporate roles in central government including heading up a safeguarding programme delivering through local authorities.
Paul is a Partner at Capsticks, with over 20 years’ public sector experience in employment law. His areas of expertise include discrimination, whistleblowing claims and industrial relations law. He is a regular writer for national and legal media, a Director of Black Solicitors Network and Deputy Chair of Employment Lawyers Association. He is passionate about making the legal profession more diverse and inclusive.
What’s a Trustee?
Trustees have the overall legal responsibility for a charity. The law describes charity trustees as ‘the persons having the general control and management of the administration of a charity’ (Charities Act 2011, section 177).
It is very important that a charity can identify its trustees. This is not always as straightforward as it sounds. The trustees are the individuals who take decisions at the governing body of the charity, regardless of their actual title.
Sometimes the charity’s trustees are given other titles, such as governors, councillors, management committee members or directors> The title used is usually in the charity’s governing document.
What matters is the role, not the title. Trustees have specific duties that should be set out in your organisation’s constitution or governing document. The company directors of a charitable company are also its charity trustees. Trustees must act collectively to govern the charity and take decisions. Together, the trustees are described in this guidance as the trustee board. Trustees have no authority to act on their own as a trustee unless this has been authorised by the trustee board as a whole.
Some charities use different terms to describe the trustee board, such as management committee, executive committee or board of directors. Again, what matters is the role, not the title.
Some charities use the term ‘trustee’ to describe individuals who are not actually charity trustees or board members: they might instead be patrons or hold the title to a charity’s property. A charity may have a board or management committee which runs the organisation and “trustees” who hold the organisation, property or investments. It is the board or committee who are the “charity trustees”. The “trustees” in this case will be “holding” or “custodian trustees”. People who are holding or custodian trustees might also be on the committee and so also be “charity trustees”
Trustees are elected or appointed in many different ways, depending on the charity’s governing document. They might be elected by members or appointed by the other trustees, or even appointed by an outside body such as a local authority or church if the governing document stipulates this.
Some charities invite individuals other than trustees to attend trustee board meetings: for example, staff (where employed) or advisors. It is important to distinguish between the trustees and other individuals who attend to avoid any confusion. Trustees are the only people entitled to make decisions at a board meeting.
The Role of Trustees
Trustees operate within two sets of formal rules, the governing document which may be called rules or a constitution or the trust deed. In a charitable company, the governing document will be called the Memorandum and Articles of Association or the Articles for short.
The second set of rules are those in the law, particularly the acts which govern their type of organisation, for example, the Trustee Act 2000 (for unincorporated charities), Insolvency Acts, Companies Acts and Charity Acts.
Trustees work collectively as a board and take decisions at formal board meetings. Once a decision has been collectively made all trustees are bound to support that decision.
In practice, many trustee boards delegate day to day or operational matters to individual trustees, volunteers, committees, staff or agents. In larger charities the trustee board might delegate the day to day running of the organisation along with some decision making powers to a staff team via a chief executive.
Regardless of how much day to day work is delegated from them, the trustee board retain overall legal responsibility and may only delegate as far as their governing document or the relevant legislation allows.
The Charity Commission’s core guidance for trustees is The Essential Trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do (CC3).