Dartford Borough Council in Kent has appointed four members of the public to a committee that governs several charities on its behalf, after a judgement by the charity tribunal.
The tribunal upheld complaints by two local residents after the council sold a portion of land belonging to the Kidd Legacy, a local charity for which the authority acted as the sole trustee.
The council remains the sole trustee of the legacy and of several other charities, but has delegated their day-to-day governance to its Deed Trust and Obligations Committee. This previously comprised only councillors. But on 14 October it appointed four local residents.
Lawrence Simanowitz, a partner at charity law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, said the ruling set a precedent that would apply to other councils that are sole trustees of charities.
"Councils may try to wriggle out of this by saying that their circumstances are different," he said.
"However, the charity tribunal ruling makes it clear that this is the governance model that councils should follow, and I think we will see more councils doing so."