The commission was unable to confirm on Wednesday morning when the request was made, so it is not clear whether it is related to the recent resignations of two RSPCA trustees, who stood down citing concerns about the charity’s management and governance.
One of the outgoing trustees, Sally Phillips, said in her September resignation letter that there should be an external review of the charity’s governance. It has been without a permanent chief executive since the resignation of Gavin Grant on health grounds in February 2014.
David Canavan, vice chair of the charity, has been acting chief executive while a permanent replacement for Grant is sought.
Phillips said in her letter, seen by Third Sector, that Canavan’s appointment was "an appalling blurring of the governance and management of the RSPCA".
She also questioned the governance structure of the RSPCA, arguing that it was unlikely to deliver the best possible trustee board because the candidates for election were drawn from a very "narrow pool of RSPCA members".
The other trustee to stand down, Christopher Laurence, said in his resignation letter last month that he had been concerned for some time about the manner in which the charity was being governed and managed.
A spokesman for the Charity Commission said the regulator had "regular and ongoing engagement" with the RSPCA, as with a number of large charities, and was aware of the trustee resignations.
"We have recommended that the charity conduct an externally led, independent governance review," he said. "This will enable it to regularise current governance issues."
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA confirmed that the charity’s trustees unanimously agreed last week to carry out an independent external review of its governance arrangements.
"The RSPCA is committed to ensuring that its governance arrangements remain appropriate for a leading national charity and that the council, as the charity’s governing body, continues to provide effective leadership and accountability so we can fulfil our vital mission to prevent cruelty to animals and improve their welfare," she said in a statement.