Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)

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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)

What is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)?

The Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) is a new legal form for charities registered in Scotland. The SCIO is a corporate body able to enter into contracts, employ staff, incur debts, own property, to sue and to be sued. As such, it provides a high degree of protection against personal liability for its charity trustees. It also provides some reassurance for those entering into contracts with it, and for creditors. Unlike charities that are companies limited by guarantee, SCIOs have OSCR as a single regulator. The SCIO provides another option for bodies wishing to register as charities, and for existing Scottish charities wishing to adopt a different constitutional form.

Should my club become a SCIO?

You should carefully consider whether being a SCIO will meet the particular needs of your club, and the implications of such status. There are some important differences between being a SCIO and any other kind of body with charitable status in Scotland. OSCR’s guidance document in our related documents section, sets out some of the key differences and this may help you in deciding whether being a SCIO is suitable for your organisation.
 
There are a number of important differences that set the SCIO apart. Firstly, unlike other charities, the SCIO’s existence is dependent upon its charitable status. This means that the SCIO must cease to exist if it is removed from the Scottish Charity Register. This is a very important point to consider before applying to become a SCIO. Also, the SCIO’s members are subject to some of the same duties as charity trustees.
 
We strongly recommend that you seek advice from intermediary bodies, support organisations and professional advisers.

Support and advice available in Glasgow?

There is support and guidance available to clubs in Glasgow on how to become a SCIO through the following organisations

How can my club become a SCIO?

To become a charity clubs have to pass OSCRs charity test. This is to say that clubs must have charitable purposes with its activities providing benefit to the community in Scotland or elsewhere. For more information becoming a charity visit www.oscr.org.uk.

What are the key features of being a SCIO?

  • Limited Liability without being a company (in the traditional sense)
  • Separate legal personality
  • Single regulation with OSCR only 
  • Usually Two-tier (can also be single-tier) 
  • Duties for BOTH charity trustees and Members 
  • Register of Members necessary
  • Simpler and easier to operate (good for smaller charities)
  • Regular members & Trustees meetings

What are the advantages of being a SCIO?

  • Separate legal personality
  • Limited liability for members 
  • Single regulatory requirements – OSCR
  • Protects against charity trustee personal liability
  • Accounting procedures less onerous for smaller charities
  • Transparency for members/outside world

What are the disadvantages of being a SCIO?

  • When SCIO winds up it ceases to exist entirely
  • Must keep register of members as well as trustees
  • It could be onerous if large membership
  • Cannot convert to another legal form
 
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