OSCR have regulated the Scottish charities sector for over 13 years. Throughout this time, they have developed a clear approach towards the regulation of charities. As part of that approach, in 2016 OSCR introduced the notifiable events regime, the aim of which is to ensure trustees always act in the best interests of the charity and alert OSCR to serious issues as soon as possible – so that OSCR can provide guidance as early as possible.

As a reminder, a notifiable event can be, amongst other things:

  • Abuse or mistreatment of vulnerable beneficiaries of a charity
  • Significant financial loss
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Improper actions of a Trustee

When a notifiable event occurs, the charity should contact OSCR and provide details of both the incident and the actions the charity has taken or will take as a result. Under the regime, OSCR should only be informed of the incidents that will have a serious impact on the charity and is seen as a positive action for a charity to take. Although it is not a legal requirement, it is a step that should be taken from a regulatory and reputational point of view.

For those who are nervous of reporting matters to a “regulator”, Jude Turbyne, Head of Engagement at OSCR, has said “ … don’t be … it gives OSCR the reassurance it needs with respect to the governance of the charity, allows us to identify the correct sources of guidance and support for any given situation, and is ultimately a way of us acting together with the charity to try to ensure trust and confidence in the charity going forwards”.

The regime has increased trust and confidence in both OSCR and the wider charity sector. Since the regime commenced, there have been a reported 320 notifiable events and, in the majority of these cases, the trustees have taken the necessary steps, meaning OSCR did not have to become involved. Only 27 cases were referred to OSCR’s Compliance and Investigation team, with 19 requiring further investigation.

Reporting a serious incident to OSCR is beneficial rather than detrimental and demonstrates the good governance within the charity. If you require assistance, please contact a member of the Charities & Third Sector team at MacRoberts.

For further updates on the Charities sector, please see our latest MacRoberts Loves Charities Newsletter.