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Recent court case confirms charitable duties of members of a charity

22 August 2018

Lehtimaki v The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK) and others [2018] EWCA Civ 1605

The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court’s ruling that members of a charitable company (such as an academy trust) have fiduciary duties to act in the best interests of the charity.

Reinforcing the Charity Commission’s guidance on membership charities (RS7), the court agreed that when exercising their powers members of a charitable company should only act to further the charitable objects of the charity and not in their own personal interests.

The judgment raises interesting questions about whether, if they have fiduciary duties, members could be considered to be in breach of them and whether academy trust should have policies about avoiding potential breaches of duty by members.

The Academies Financial Handbook 2018 already requires academy trusts to maintain registers of interest for members and publish them on to academy trust’s website but little further information is given specifically for members; most of the guidance in the handbook focusses on trustees/directors (not members) avoiding and managing conflicts. Few academy trusts have specific policies for how to deal with conflicts of interest for members.

Until the DfE address the issue and amend the Academies Financial Handbook I would suggest that academy trusts extend their existing policies on managing and avoiding trustee conflicts of interest to also cover members. It also isn’t clear whether the risk protection arrangement (RPA) covers breaches of fiduciary duties by members which could leave academy trusts open to unrecoverable potential losses. Adria Shardlow is raising this with the DfE.

Training and events

28Sep

Exclusions training for senior leaders and governing boards Interactive session via Zoom

This two-hour, online interactive training session focuses on all you need to know about the exclusions framework for schools and trusts. It’s designed to help ensure schools are compliant with exclusions law and guidance as well as considering wider issues.

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3Oct

Safeguarding Training for Governors and Trustees Interactive session via Zoom

This two-hour safeguarding course via zoom is designed specifically for governors and trustees. It steers away from operational safeguarding matters and instead focuses on strategic safeguarding and good safeguarding governance, meeting the requirements of The Governance Handbook 2022 and Keeping Children Safe 2022.

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Focus on...

Employment Law – Harpur Trust v Brazel – Implications for schools webinar

On 20 July 2022, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited judgment in the case of Harpur Trust v Brazel, upholding the decision of the Court of Appeal. For those of you familiar with this case, you will know that it concerns the statutory leave requirements for part-time and part-year workers. For schools and academies whose workforce consists of a variety of types of part-time and part-year workers, this case is one that must be understood before any changes are applied. Come and join Emma Hughes, Head of HR Services as she puts questions to Ian Deakin, Employment Partner, and Sarah Linden, Senior Associate.

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Press releases

Leading education lawyers play major role as DfE announces 10,000th academy conversion

The Department for Education (DfE) have announced that the conversion of Donisthorpe Primary School in Leicestershire on 1st September marked the 10,000th academy conversion.

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Guides

How to carry out the KCSiE online checks FAQs

There is (understandably) some confusion about the steps schools and trusts need to take to discharge the new online check duty set out in paragraph 220 of KCSIE. I can’t completely clarify all of it for you, but I can help you find a sensible route through. These FAQs are a good place to start.

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Legal updates

Understanding the Appropriate Adult expectation

One of three significant changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 is a new expectation that Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) should be aware of the requirement for children to have an Appropriate Adult. The guidance says nothing more than that, but the DfE has updated the Searching, Screening and Confiscation Advice to include a new section on strip searches. In this briefing I explain how to meet this new requirement and help you understand what steps you need to take when involving the police in pupil searches.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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