Legal and governance training and consultancy
for the voluntary sector

Ch.1: Setting up an organisation
Ch.2: Unincorporated organisations
Ch.3: Incorporated organisations
Ch.4: Charitable status, charity law & regulation
Ch.5: The organisation's objects
Ch.6: The organisation's name
Ch.7: The governing document
Ch.8: Registering as a charity
Ch.9: Branches, subsidiaries & group structures
Ch.10: Changing legal form
Ch.11: Collaborative working, partnerships and mergers
Ch.12: Members of the organisation
Ch.13: Members of the governing body
Ch.14: Officers, committees & sub-committees
Ch.15: Duties & powers of the governing body
Ch.16: Restrictions on payments & benefits
Ch.17: The registered office & other premises
Ch.18: Communication & paperwork
Ch.19: Meetings, resolutions & decision making
Ch.20: Assets & agency
Ch.21: Contracts & contract law
Ch.22: Risk & liability
Ch.23: Insurance
Ch.25: Employees & other workers
Ch.26: Rights, duties & the contract of employment
Ch.27: Model contract of employment
Ch.28: Equal opportunities in employment
Ch.29: Taking on new employees
Ch.30: Pay & pensions
Ch.31: Working time, time off & leave
Ch.32: Rights of parents & carers
Ch.33: Disciplinary matters, grievances & whistleblowing
Ch.34: Termination of employment
Ch.35: Redundancy
Ch.36: Employer-employee relations
Ch.37: Employment claims & settlement
Ch.38: Self employed & other contractors
Ch.39: Volunteers
Ch.40: Health & safety
Ch.41: Safeguarding children & vulnerable adults
Ch.42: Equal opportunities: goods, services & facilities
Ch.43: Data protection & use of information
Ch.44: Intellectual property
Ch.45: Publications, publicity & the internet
Ch.46: Campaigning & political activities
Ch.47: Public events, entertainment & licensing
Ch.48: Funding & fundraising: General rules
Ch.49: Fundraising activities
Ch.50: Tax-effective giving
Ch.51: Trading & social enterprise
Ch.52: Contracts & service agreements
Ch.53: Financial procedures & security
Ch.54: Annual accounts, reports & returns
Ch.55: Auditors & independent examiners
Ch.56: Corporation tax, income tax & capital gains tax
Ch.57: Value added tax
Ch.58: Investment & reserves
Ch.59: Borrowing
Ch.60: Land ownership & tenure
Ch.61: Acquiring & disposing of property
Ch.62: Business leases
Ch.63: Property management & the environment
Ch.64: How the law works
Ch.65: Dispute resolution & litigation

This page contains information that has appeared on Sandy Adirondack's legal update website for voluntary organisations at For current updates, including potential changes that are in the pipeline, see the legal update website.

These websites for each chapter update the 3rd edition of The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook by James Sinclair Taylor and the Charity Team at Russell-Cooke Solicitors, edited by Sandy Adirondack (Directory of Social Change, 2009). The websites are not intended as a comprehensive update and should not be treated as such.

To order a copy of The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook, print out the order form at or send an email order by clicking . It costs £60 for voluntary organisations or £90 for others, plus 10% p&p.

To avoid spamming, an email address is not given on screen. If you can't see the word 'here' or have trouble sending an email by clicking on it, the address is bookservice at, with the spaces and 'at' replaced by the @ symbol.

The information here covers the law applicable to England and Wales. It may not apply in Northern Ireland and/or Scotland. These news items are not a full or definitive statement of the law and are not intended as a substitute for professional legal advice. No responsibility for loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be taken by the author.

Chapter 24

This page contains only archived items, which may not be up to date. For current updates to the chapter, see the legal update website for voluntary organisations at


Added 27/4/09, links updated 10/1/10. This information adds to s.24.2 in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
An A to Z of resources to help voluntary organisations cope with the economic situation.

  • ACAS and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have jointly published How to manage your workforce in a recession, a short 10-point action plan, at
  • If you can get beyond the cluttered home page, ACEVO's recession support website at includes a useful range of articles and expert guidance on finance, management, career development, and sources of support.
  • Business Link has an interactive tool on handling potential redundancies at to help employers understand when they can make redundancies, possible alternatives, and the law and good practice in relation to notification and consultation. CIPD has updated its factsheet on redundancy, via ACAS has a wide range of information on redundancy and short-time working, at
  • The Charities Aid Foundation now has a confidential financial crisis helpline, which provides a one-off confidential discussion with suggestions for survival. Details are at, or ring 0800 980 2000.
  • The Charity Commission's Managing financial difficulties and insolvency in charities at was written in happier times, but provides one of the best starting points for looking objectively at the organisation's financial situation and prospects.
  • The Charity Finance Directors' Group has a recession watch page, full of useful information including sources of government funding, at
  • Compact Voice has produced a two-page practical guide on key Compact principles for the economic downturn, at
  • The Development Trusts Association's Early warning guide at is my favourite — more pictures than words, bright and easy to use. As they say, "Just a quick flip through this guide should help you work out whether your organisation is heading for the cliffs or enjoying the walk."
  • The Institute of Fundraising and Think Consulting Solutions have produced a free fundraising healthcheck, to help organisations assess the impact of the recession on their income and develop fundraising programmes and investment strategies. The healthcheck is online, the organisation does not have to give its name, no details are stored, and a report and recommendations can be printed out. The healthcheck is at
  • NAVCA (the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action) has a recession resources page at, intended primarily to help councils for voluntary service and similar organisations help other organisations. NAVCA's Challenging a funding cut, via, provides a framework for developing a strategy to campaign against a funding cut.
  • NCVO has one of the best resource pages, at This has advice on surviving the recession and dealing with a financial crisis, as well as useful background to the recession, government action to help the sector, and organisations' experience.
  • In the Office of the Third Sector's recession action plan Real help for communities: Volunteers, charities and social enterprise, the government confirmed that it is committed to ensuring public sector bodies pay invoices to contractors within 10 days. Voluntary organisations should use this commitment to put pressure on late payers, and should include payment within 10 days as an obligation in all new contracts with public sector bodies. Real help for communities can be accessed via and lists many other government initiatives, including funding schemes.
  • Dealing with a fundraising crisis is a sensible information sheet, recently updated, from the South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau at
  • VolResource, a weekly email newsletter put together by John Howes, contains up to date information about new resources, new sources of funding, new government schemes, new consultations and lots more. I get some of my information from this newsletter, and John gets some of his information from mine so there's a bit of overlap but his goes way beyond the purely legal. Sign up for a free subscription at


Added 27/4/09. This information is included in s.24.2 in The Russell-Cooke Voluntary Sector Legal Handbook (VSLH3).
Abridged and reproduced with kind permission of Wrigleys Solicitors, from an article by Sue Greaves of their Charity and Social Economy Team in the March-May 2009 issue of Social Economy. For a free subscription to Social Economy (highly recommended) go to

"Trustees should not only know the indicators of insolvency, but also take active steps to manage the insolvency risk to their charity. Alarm bells should ring when there is pressure from creditors chasing overdue payments, when the charity is having to run down reserves on a regular basis to meet outgoings, where current liabilities are not covered by current assets (bearing in mind that anything in restricted funds may not be available to meet current liabilities), and where expected expenditure exceeds foreseeable income.

For directors of charitable companies, the provisions of the Companies Act 2006 apply. Such trustees not only have the common law duty to act in the best interests of the charity, they must also take care to minimise potential loss to the company's creditors.

Trustees who are concerned about the financial prospects of their charity may wish to seek legal or accountancy advice immediately. Trustees may safely incur expenditure on such advice since it may lead to a better realisation of assets. The advisors may guide trustees to an insolvency practitioner (IP) where appropriate.

In small charities it can be difficult to secure the services of an IP since there are no assets out of which the IP's expenses can be paid. Trustees in those circumstances may find that they have to take a hands on approach to winding up the charity.

Information may also be obtained from the Insolvency Service website at and the Charity Commission's CC12 Managing financial difficulties and insolvency in charities at

Even if none of these alarm bells are ringing for you, you may wish to consider preventative action as a matter of good governance. As a starting point there are a number of questions you might ask:

  • When did your charity last carry out an insolvency risk assessment?
  • Is the charity able to pay its debts as and when they fall due?
  • Are the assets greater than the charity's liabilities?
  • How secure and diverse are the sources of income? Charities dependent on a sole source of income may be particularly vulnerable.
  • Are there significant liabilities on the horizon?
  • Are there significant fixed costs?
  • Do your trustees have sufficient time and skill to devote to running the charity?
  • Do your trustees regularly and fully consider financial reports?
  • Are financial reports available in advance of meetings?
  • Are actual income and expenditure monitored against budgeted income and expenditure?"

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Governance and legal training and consultancy
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