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The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has launched a consultation on an updated draft of its guide to trustees’ duties, ‘The essential trustee (CC3)’.

The new draft follows recent commission guidance on decision making and conflicts of interest. The consultation is running until February, and the responses will shape the final version of the guidance.

The most significant change is a new explanation of what the commission expects of trustees. Commission guidance currently distinguishes between legal requirements (what trustees ‘must’ do) and minimum good practice standards that are not legal requirements (what trustees ‘should’ do).

The regulator wants to make it clearer that it expects trustees to comply with specified good practice unless they can justify not doing so (for example by complying in a different way). Whilst the commission will still recognise where trustees have made an honest mistake, trustees who fail to follow the specified good practice are at risk of breaching their legal duties.

The commission is holding discussions with stakeholders about these changes and is keen to hear views from anyone with an interest in the governance of charities, as well as trustees and charities.

The closing date for responses is 17 February 2015

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