Trustees must display names on charity register from April 2019

From 1 April 2019 the name of all charity trustees will have to be displayed to the public on the charity register, unless a dispensation has been granted

In special circumstances, the Charity Commission can prevent a trustee’s name from being made public on the charity register by granting a dispensation. This can only be issued in circumstances where displaying an individual’s name could put the relevant person or people in personal danger. Personal danger may include danger to mental as well as physical health.

Dispensations will not be granted automatically. Trustees or charities currently using public display names must apply for a dispensation by 1 March 2019 for the application to be considered before 1 April 2019.

If a trustee or charity has already been granted a dispensation for names not to be displayed to the public, this will remain in place. There is no need to re-apply for a dispensation.

Dispensations are granted either to an individual trustee, or to a whole trustee board.

The Charity Commission must maintain a register of charities (under s29 of the Charities Act 2011) and it has to be made available to the public under s38 of the same Act.

Who can apply for a dispensation

Dispensations may be granted to the following:

  • a charity (on behalf of an individual, or its whole trustee board); and
  • a charity trustee.

Applications are accepted for individual and whole board dispensations, though the latter is less common. For an individual trustee dispensation, it will be the individual’s circumstances that will need to be considered which may or may not relate to the charity itself.

For a whole board dispensation, the Charity Commission has to consider how being a trustee of that particular charity places any trustee of that charity in personal danger.

Dispensations cannot usually be granted where the information is public on the Companies House register, or where trustees themselves have not taken steps to protect their own anonymity.

How to apply for a dispensation

To apply for a dispensation email and provide the following information:

  • the name of the person(s) applying for a dispensation;
  • the name and registered number of the charity or charities the request relates to. If someone is a trustee of several charities, you need to list all the charities and registered numbers;
  • reason(s) why displaying the persons legal name to the public could put people in personal danger; and
  • any further information or evidence to demonstrate risk of personal danger.

Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis and response is given within 30 working days, but this may not be the final decision.

An application for dispensation can be made at any time, including at registration of the charity.

When an unincorporated charity with dispensations applies to incorporate, any dispensation held is subject to a new decision based on request from the applicants.

Note that if  Companies House displays the legal name of trustees as directors, the Charity Commission will not usually grant a dispensation.

Dispensation reviews

Once granted, individual dispensations are reviewed annually and dispensations granted to whole trustee boards are reviewed every five years. Any dispensation can be reviewed earlier if a complaint is received by the Charity Commission.

Charity Commission guidance, Display of trustee legal names on the charity register, released 8 November 2018

Report by Sara White

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