The notifiable events regime was introduced by Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in April 2016. However, due to mismatched perceptions and expectations around the use of the regime, it has been stopped. OSCR now asks charities and trustees instead to submit any relevant concerns through OSCR’s “raise a concern” form.

Under the notifiable events regime, charities were required to submit a return to OSCR when something serious happened or was happening to a charity. While OSCR did not want to know about every event, those that threatened to have a significant impact on the charity or its assets were supposed to be reported to OSCR.

Following a recent review of the process, OSCR found that the reports that were received through the regime were not representative of the Scottish charity sector as they mainly came from large, high-income or cross-border charities. The reports themselves were also unclear about whether the issues reported had been dealt with successfully or even if the trustees had the experience or support available to them to manage the issue properly. As a result, from 1st April 2024, OSCR is no longer asking charities to use the notifiable events regime to inform them about issues which have or are having a serious impact on the charity.

However, this does not mean that OSCR does not want to hear about serious issues which cannot be resolved or if the charity does not have the resources to deal with a particular matter. If there are concerns about the way a charity is being run then charities and trustees should still report this to OSCR through OSCR’s “raise a concern” form. OSCR will assess facts reported to them in the usual way and will then determine if there is a need for OSCR to take any regulatory action, or if they need to provide further support and guidance.

OSCR has said that it is “important for charity trustees to try and address any challenges that they face themselves in the first instance. But where there are serious issues that the trustees are unable to address, which would potentially indicate a failure to meet their legal duties, we want to know”.

OSCR’s position is that it is the charity trustees who are responsible for managing their charity effectively and dealing with matters as they come up. Where appropriate, trustees should seek further advice and if a serious matter has been resolved then there is no need for OSCR to be made aware of the issue: provided trustees are acting in line with their legal duties and within the powers that are set out in their constitution, then OSCR does not expect to be notified. OSCR has also provided a summary of the kinds of issues that they can and cannot deal with which can be found here.

While the end of the notifiable events regime was not expected by the wider sector, it does not mean that OSCR is taking a more “hands off” approach. Instead OSCR hopes that by reframing their advice on coping with serious matters, they will only receive reports of concerns which they really need to know about, and which in turn will allow OSCR to prioritise resources more effectively and quickly and provide support to trustees where it is most needed.