People often ask us to clarify their personal liabilities as an officer of a charity. Your personal liability depends on the structure of your charity.
As an officer, you should have a good understanding of your charity’s rules document and its legal structure. You should also understand laws that may apply to your charity such as health and safety, tax, contract and labour laws.
If your organisation is an unincorporated group, you may be personally liable for any obligations the group takes on and for any judgments made against the group by the courts.
If you are an incorporated society or a charitable trust, in general there is limited personal liability, provided decision makers act honestly, prudently, within the group's charitable purposes and not for personal gain.
Note: Make sure you are familiar with the legislative requirements that apply to your organisation’s legal structure, e.g. Incorporated Societies Act 1908(external link) and Charitable Trusts Act 1957(external link).
Some key places to learn more about personal liability are:
Community Law Manual(external link) for information about the different legal structures and laws that you should know about
Companies Office – Societies and Trusts Online(external link) for information about Incorporated Societies and Charitable Trusts
Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment – Labour information(external link) for information about health and safety, and employment relations
Inland Revenue(external link) for tax information, or
- Independent advice from a relevant professional, such as an accountant or lawyer.