Revised conflicts of interest guidance

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, has published revised public guidance on conflicts of interest for charity trustees.

The guidance follows a public consultation and has been developed in light of the frequency of improperly handled conflicts of interest across the Commission's casework. In its recent publication, Tackling Abuse and Mismanagement, the regulator reported that conflicts of interest were a feature in all of its completed investigations of 2012/13.

As a result, the new guidance has been designed to improve general levels of understanding amongst trustees about this common governance issue and to be clearer about what is expected of charities and their trustees regardless of the size of the charity and the extent of the risks posed.

The guidance consists of a high level summary and detailed guidance. The Commission has also published a paper setting out the legal underpinning of the guidance. 

Across the guidance there is a new emphasis on the seriousness of the issue and the consequences that can follow from mishandling conflicts of interest.

For the first time the Commission's guidance expressly explains that potential conflicts of interest may need to be considered as a pre-appointment issue, placing the emphasis on preventing conflicts from arising. There is also an increased emphasis on the responsibility of individual trustees to identify and declare any conflicts of interest.

Other key features of the new guidance include a simple three step approach to dealing with conflicts of interest, a revised working definition of conflicts of interest, and a number of practical examples to illustrate the principles in the guidance.

To access the revised guidance visit