At Work: Law and Governance - Regulation with Rosie - The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on the end of the affair

Jobs, relationships, Top of the Pops: when they're over, they're over. Yet we often find it hard to accept things and move on. I think if we were aware of our other options, we'd learn to deal with endings better - and that holds true for charities too.

All the benefits of charitable status are irrelevant to a charity that exists in name only, but most of the charities we remove from the register don't come to us seeking their freedom. Instead, just like the new Scottish charity regulator OSCR, we spend time and resources identifying inactive charities with defunct contact details in order to keep the register accurate.

If obsolete charities knew their regulator had a vested interest in helping them leave the register, they might be keener to approach us in search of a tidy exit.

Final accounts

For a charity without assets, all we need is evidence that the processes of dissolving the charity have happened, a copy of the final accounts and the minutes of the meeting at which the dissolution resolution was passed. Many charities will have dissolution clauses in their governing documents covering the process. Those without this clause should call us on 0845 300 0218 and we can implement one for them.

Where funds and property remain, things may take a little longer, but not much we hope. Trustees only have to stay around long enough to authorise transferring assets to similar charities that are still active, and we identify these and oversee the process.

At the other end of the scale, where a charity has assets and there's still a clear need for its work, it may be that the trustees want to resign but are worried we'll force them to stay on. There's a whole range of ways in which we can find and help appoint new trustees, allowing the old board to bow out gracefully and with a clear conscience.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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