Trustees or charity officers contact the Charity Commission for different reasons. These include applying to register a charity, updating the recorded details of a charity or using one of the electronic forms to apply for a service. When you contact the commission, it expects you to always:
- prepare carefully – this includes reading relevant commission guidance, ensuring you have all the information you need before contacting the commission and being clear what it is you want or need from the commission
- provide information which is true, complete and correct
When the Charity Commission contacts you, it needs to be confident that its regulatory concerns have been fully addressed. This means the commission expects you to:
- fully cooperate with it
- provide full, frank and honest answers to its questions
- provide information or documents it has asked for by the date specified
This will help ensure the commission’s engagement with your charity is completed as soon as possible.
Sometimes the commission may decide to check some of the information you have given it with other people or organisations, or it may ask for evidence to prove what you are telling it is correct. This is standard practice.
If you cannot meet a deadline the commission has set, you must let it know immediately and before the deadline expires. You must also ensure that you answer the commission’s questions fully and honestly. This means you should not provide limited or partial responses.
- do not cooperate with the commission
- do not provide information the commission has requested, or
- provide partial, inadequate or no response
the commission is likely to conclude that the regulatory concerns are not resolved or allayed. If you do not provide the information requested, or provide limited, partial or inadequate responses the commission will often consider this a regulatory concern in itself. This may result in it deciding to take stronger regulatory action.
The courts have made clear that they expect trustees to cooperate with the regulator.
The commission will consider non-cooperation as evidence of mismanagement or misconduct, which is a matter the commission takes seriously.
It is a criminal offence under section 60 of the Charities Act 2011 for anyone to knowingly or recklessly provide false or misleading information to the commission. This includes suppressing, concealing or destroying documents.