A large number of charities will apply for conversion to Scottish charitable incorporated organisations, a new type of charity that gives trustees a high level of protection against personal liability, according to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
The new legal form has been available to all charities in Scotland since 1 January, including charitable companies and charitable industrial and provident societies. It has been available to new applicants for charitable status, and some types of existing charity, since April last year.
Martin Tyson, head of charity services at the OSCR, said that about 20 per cent of new applicants for charitable status since April had applied to be SCIOs.
"The SCIO was keenly awaited in the charity sector and so far we have seen substantial interest from new applicants," he said. "We believe that interest will be reflected among existing charities that are able to apply to us to convert.
"The SCIO form does offer a number of benefits, but it is important for those seeking conversion to consider its full requirements and satisfy themselves that the SCIO is appropriate for their organisation."
Tyson said the SCIO was a corporate body that could enter into contracts, employ staff, own property, incur debts, sue and be sued. This meant it offered a high degree of protection against personal liability for trustees, while not being subject to the same reporting and regulatory requirements as a company, he said.
He said that companies limited by guarantee had to produce fully accrued accounts regardless of their size, but an SCIO would be subject to the same accounting thresholds as unincorporated charities.
The OSCR is running an outreach programme to meet local support groups and outline the details of the SCIO form.
The launch of the CIO form for charities in England has been repeatedly delayed and no date has been announced for when it will become available.