Scottish charity law: consultation

This consultation seeks views on potential improvements to the statutory charity regulation framework in Scotland.


What are we consulting about?

1. It has been 17 years since the Scottish Charity Law Review Commission (the ‘McFadden report’) proposed establishing a Scottish Charity Regulator and more than 13 years since the passage of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 which established the legislative framework for charities in Scotland.

2. As a government we have a responsibility to ensure that the legislative framework is fit for purpose and is protecting and serving the public interest.

3. Under the 2005 Act OSCR has a general function to give information or advice, or to make proposals, to the Scottish Ministers on matters relating to its functions. OSCR have used their experience to provide proposals, which focus primarily on increasing transparency, accountability and public trust, to Scottish Ministers for consideration.

4. We have also recently had cause to consider whether the regulatory system remains appropriate for preserving public trust, taking into account the evolving challenges being faced by the sector. In the wake of recent safeguarding concerns both at home and abroad; as well as a range of governance concerns and examples of charitable status being abused, it is more important than ever that charities and trustees operate transparently and are accountable for their actions.

5. We are also aware of the developments in charity law in the rest of the UK, and the implications of different regimes for charities, for example differences in trustee disqualification criteria. We are open to learning from these developments, especially where they could leave Scotland and the Scottish charity sector vulnerable.

6. Therefore, in light of the changing environment and OSCR’s proposals, we feel the time is right to consult on potential updates to the charities legislation that would promote transparency, accountability and trust to ensure the public continue to have confidence in both the sector and OSCR.

7. Whilst the issues highlighted in this consultation mainly derive from OSCR’s proposals, we remain open as to what if any changes are required to the statutory framework, and will be guided by the consultation responses.

Who do we want to hear from?

8. We are seeking views from members of the public, the charity sector, and anyone with an interest in charity law. We want to learn from the sector’s expertise and experience and hear first-hand about what really makes an impact on levels of public trust and confidence.

9. The consultation is set out in ten sections. You do not have to complete every section in the consultation if you do not wish to. However, where you have provided a yes or no answer to a question it would be helpful if you could explain your answer where requested.

Responding to this Consultation

10. We are inviting responses to this consultation by 1 April 2019.

11. Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space ( Access and respond to this consultation online at:

12. You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of 1 April 2019.

13. If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form to:

Charity Law and Volunteering Team
Scottish Government
3H North,
Victoria Quay

Handling your response

14. If you respond using the consultation hub, you will be directed to the About You page before submitting your response. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are content for your response to published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

15. All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

16. If you are unable to respond via Citizen Space, please complete and return the Respondent Information Form included in this document.

17. To find out how we handle your personal data, please see our privacy policy: /privacy/

Next steps in the process

18. Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at If you use the consultation hub to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

19. Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so. An analysis report will also be made available.

Comments and complaints

20. If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted, please send them to the contact address above or at:

Scottish Government consultation process

21. Consultation is an essential part of the policymaking process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work.

22. You can find all our consultations online: Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views, either online, by email or by post.

23. Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We will publish a report of this analysis for every consultation. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses received may:

  • indicate the need for policy development or review
  • inform the development of a particular policy
  • help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals
  • be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented

24. While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.


Email: Claire McHarrie

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