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During a committee meeting a representative from a user group says s/he is not a trustee as they were never elected as such, they are just there to represent their group:

  1. Only people formally elected as such are true trustees with any responsibilities or liabilities
  2. The trustees are the people who actually own the hall, not the people who run it by being on the management committee
  3. Everyone involved in the day to day management of the hall is also a trustee

Undoubtedly one of the biggest governance issues we at DCA encounter is just who is a 'trustee'. There are misunderstandings because there are usually both custodian trustees and management trustees and the roles are not always understood but, more commonly, there is often a misunderstanding about trustees and management committees.

The reality is that management trustees and management committees are one and the same thing. Any one who sits on the management committee, regardless of how they get there, are also trustees as far as the Charity Commission is concerned. 

The situation is further muddied because some committee members (trustees) are elected and others are appointed as 'representatives' of user groups. The term representative is a problem in itself as it implies that the person is representing that group on the committee whereas, in reality, they are actually management trustees of the hall who get their post by appointment by a user group.

It is not true that only elected trustees are true trustees so option 1 above is undoubtedly wrong. Option 2 brings in the problem of identifying custodian trustees and management committees, this can be particularly difficult where the Parish Council are the custodian trustees.

The Charity Commission definition of a 'trustee' is ANYONE who is involved in the day to day running of the charity and so ANYONE who sits on the management committee of a hall is, de facto, a trustee. Option 3 is the correct answer and is the only acceptable answer. If you strongly disagree with this seek guidance.