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Councillors role when the Council is a sole Trustee and Indemnity Insurance

0 votes
The Parish Council is registered with the Charity Commission as sole trustee of a recreation field, which means all councillors are Trustee's, the Clerk refuses to acknowledge the Charity Commission guidance and as such we have no Trustee's Indemnity insurance. The Clerk has been in post over 3years and the land has been registered with the charity commission since the 60s.

Does this carry any risk to me as a councillor please?
asked by (140 points)

2 Answers

0 votes

The clerk the Clerk is there to serve the council, not to unilaterally make their own decisions..  He or she should be ordered by resolution to acknowledge the Charity Commission guidance and work by it or be subject to action by your staffing committee. .

answered by (9k points)
0 votes
Does the field belong to the Parish Council, or are they acting as custodian trustee for another charity? Confusingly, a custodian trustee is not a trustee in the charity law sense. If you're not sure, the easiest way to find out is to do an online Land Registry Map Enquiry. The Title Register will cost you £3.00, assuming the land is registered and will confirm the beneficial owner.

If the Parish Council is merely a custodian trustee, it acts on the instructions of a third party, so needs no indemnity insurance. If the Council is acting as Trustee in its own right (a managing trustee), indemnity insurance is advisable, unless the charity's governing document specifically prohibits this, as some older documents do. Indemnity insurance is normally included in most charity insurance policies these days.

I've suggested the Land Registry route, as it is more reliable than asking someone who has been on the Council for years, as the all-important difference between managing trustees and custodian trustees is often lost in the mists of time and the roles become confused. I am dealing with two such cases at the moment, where community centres have been built by Parish Councils on land they thought they owned, but have now discovered that they don't.
answered ago by (11.4k points)
The Council is the registered owner. There is nothing in the Indentures or Land Registry Title which prohibits Indemnity Insurance. The Indentures state the land is for recreational purposes forever. The Council took out a deed of dedication with Fields in Trust a few years ago.The trusts has no insurance the buildings are insured through the Councils insurers. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill as I am told by the Clerk personal liability only arises if negligent decisions are made and as a majority take the vote, it would be extremely unlikely. Due to Pecuniary and therefore potentially prejudicial declarations I do not participate in all the decision making.
If the charity manages assets owned by the Council and the individuals perform the role of charity trustee by virtue of being an elected member of the Council, their acts or omissions should be covered under the Council's insurance package, in which case no additional insurance cover would be required. An email to the insurance company, setting out the facts, would clarify this.

Personal liability is a potential issue for trustees of unincorporated charities. The most commonly-cited examples on public open space are trees and children's play equipment. Public liability insurance policies place obligations on landowners with regard to inspection regimes, so failure to comply with those obligations would be a negligent act, sufficient to nullify a claim. I agree with your Clerk that such situations are extremely unlikely, but the same argument could be used with regard to insuring a building against fire.

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