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What Are The Issues About Having Trustees With Learning Difficulties?

What Are The Issues About Having Trustees With Learning Difficulties?

On this topic in the winter of 2005, Third Sector Magazine wrote:

"There are obvious benefits to organisations in having a trustee or trustees on their board who have learning difficulties, particularly if the focus of their objectives is providing for people with learning difficulties.  Such trustees will be best placed to give the perspective of beneficiaries of the organisation and suggest ways to improve services as well as providing them individually with empowerment and self-esteem opportunities.

There are, however, some issues which require caution.  The obvious area is in terms of legal capacity.  There is a general assumption that individuals have legal capacity, for example to enter into contracts, unless a Court determines otherwise.  This is an issue for both companies and for unincorporated organisations, for example unincorporated associations, clubs or trusts.  A company may have its own legal personality and can enter contracts in its own company name, but there is still a requirement for individuals who may sign on behalf of a company to have legal capacity in order to enter into a binding contractual commitment.  With unincorporated organisations, trustees may have to enter into contracts or hold land in their own names.  However, all charity trustees have to act in the best interest of their charity and are collectively responsible for the strategic decisions of the organisation as a whole. 

Both the Charity Commission and the Home Office are keen to promote diversity on trustee boards.  The question of legal capacity and the extent of any individual person's learning difficulties should rarely be a bar to becoming a trustee as there are measures that can be put in place by an organisation to ensure equality of opportunity and access to such an individual's valuable contribution."

What Are The Issues About Having Trustees With Learning Difficulties?

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