An end to the provisions for members’ meetings
We have all felt the impact of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions in our churches as we’ve been unable to meet together in person as church family to worship God or to take decisions about the life of our church. Often our church governance documents have not made provision for members’ meetings in such exceptional circumstances.
On 26th June 2020, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act came into force, which gave Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) and charitable companies more flexibility so that members’ meetings could be delayed and/or meetings held electronically. The flexibility to delay members’ meetings came to an end on 30th September 2020 and the provisions on meeting electronically expired on 30th March 2021.
The Charity Commission’s position
In response, on 13th April 2021, the Charity Commission updated its coronavirus guidance, which applies to all charities whether or not they are registered with the Commission. The Commission recognises that it is still currently difficult to hold face to face meetings. Where a charity’s governing documents do not allow a virtual meeting, they advise that the trustees see if they can amend their governing documents to permit a virtual meeting. If amendment is not an option, the Commission says they will understand why a virtual members’ meeting is necessary but the trustees should record the decision and explain that they have made this decision “to demonstrate good governance” of the charity. You can find the Commission’s guidance here.
For Christian organisations, members’ meetings have a different place in their life but are no less important, as certain decisions are reserved to the members. In addition to virtual meeting provisions, written resolutions can also be worth considering, depending on the number of members involved.
For help with this or any other aspect of your governing documents, please do get in touch with your usual ECS contact or use the contact buttons below to be put in touch with one of our charity solicitors.