Expertise for Scottish Charities

The Kubernesis Partnership LLP has for many years worked with charities in all three UK jurisdictions: England & Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Form our Scottish base in East Lothian (since 2016) – in addition to our main office in York, England – we are able to offer local expertise to Scottish charities and their advisers and those seeking to establish new charities in Scotland.  This includes constitutional and regulatory issues and support on charity accounting/independent examinations.

Dr Gareth Morgan, Senior Partner of Kubernesis, has a wide range of experience to help with all these issues.  He is regularly involved in work with Scottish charities, and presenting at charity events in Scotland.  To contact our Scottish office please email

Why Scottish charities are different: The whole framework of charity regulation has many difference in Scotland as compared to England, and it is vital that Scottish charities seek professional advice from those who specialise in the Scottish system of charity law and accounting.  These are some of the key distinctions:

  • The primary legislation is the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (as opposed to the Charities Act 2011 in E&W)
  • The charity registrar and regulator is OSCR – the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (not the the Charity Commission)
  • The definition of ‘charity’ is slightly different under Scottish charity law – including a different definition of ‘public benefit’ (so charitable objects in E&W are not always charitable in Scotland)
  • The new legal structure for charities is the SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation) which, though similar in some ways to an English CIO, also has many differences – SCIOs have also been around since 2011 whereas English CIOs only date from 2013 – see our book on charitable incorporated organisations
  • The charity accounting regulations in Scotland have different thresholds and requirements compared to E&W – for example:
    • for small charities producing receipts and payments accounts, the regulations in Scotland are specific on what must be included
    • there is no lower limit for independent examination (IE) of Scottish charity accounts (E&W charities can generally avoid IE if their income is under £25,000)
    • the IE must be professionally-qualified in all cases where the accounts are on the accruals/SORP basis (in E&W this only applies if the income is over £250,000)
    • a full audit applies to Scottish charities over £500,000 income (£1M in E&W)
  • In Scotland, all organisations claiming to be charities must be registered* (in England many charities are excepted or exempt from charity registration)
  • For many charities based in E&W but operating UK-wide there is the issue of dual-regulation: being registered with OSCR as well as with the E&W Charity Commission. This means meeting both the Scottish and English charity accounting requirements.

*There is an exception for limited fundraising in Scotland by charities established in England or elsewhere but only if their external charity status is made clear.

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