Many charities took advantage of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. This enabled certain corporate bodies such as charitable companies, CIOs (charitable incorporated organisations) and registered societies to hold their meetings by electronic means, irrespective of whether their governing documents permitted this.
Following on from this statue, the Charity Commission issued their own guidance, which also applied to unincorporated charities who were not otherwise caught by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. This guidance stated that where the charity’s governing documents did not specifically permit meetings being held by electronic means, they would understand if charities chose to hold meetings electronically.
The provisions of the act ceased to have effect on 30 March 2021, and the Charity Commission also ended their flexible approach to electronic meetings on 21 April 2022.
It is therefore important for charities that have seen the benefits, and still wish to take advantage of electronic meetings, including holding meetings online, by telephone, or in some other way, to ensure that they are able to continue doing so under their governing documents. Otherwise, all meetings held electronically may potentially be void. If the governing documents do not permit this, then in order to hold meetings by electronic means, they will need to be updated.
For those charities that took advantage of the flexibility afforded by the Charity Commission during the pandemic, it is also sensible to pass a ratifying resolution, which ratifies the decisions taken electronically over the pandemic where they were not permitted in the governing documents.
This is a timely reminder for trustees to review their governing documents to ensure that they reflect how they wish to work and operate as a charity.