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Help for charities and other public trusts

The Scottish Law Commission (SLC) has launched a consultation, as part of its review of trust law, which contains proposals for reforms aimed specifically at trustees of public trusts and at those who manage charities.

There are two broad areas for reform being considered:

* The first concerns public trusts, including charitable ones. The view of the SLC is that there are a good number of administrative functions, including those relating to the keeping and submitting of accounts, which absorb trustees' time and, in many cases, trust funds. In some cases, it is thought that efficiency savings could be made. The proposal is that the trustees of two or more public trusts might enter into an agreement with each other that specified administrative functions be carried out jointly, either by the trustees of one of the trusts on behalf of all the trusts, or by jointly instructing outside specialists such as accountants, or in other ways. This would be without prejudice to the continued separate existence of each of the trusts involved and the continued obligation of each of the individual bodies of trustees to respect their fiduciary duties.

* The second relates to the way in which charitable funds can be invested. The proposal in the consultation would affect all charities, whether in the form of a trust or a company, unincorporated association, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation etc. At present, Scottish charities can invest funds in Common Investment Funds (CIFs) or Common Deposit Funds (CDFs), which bring certain advantages, but such funds cannot be set up under Scots law. They are, though, available under English and Welsh law and Northern Irish law. The SLC propose that this anomaly be resolved by permitting CIFs and CDFs, whether run by Scottish fund managers or by others, to be set up under Scots law.

Views are sought by 7th September 2012.

see consultation

July 2012


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