Charitable incorporated organisation

A Charitable Incorporated Organisation, or CIO, is a new legal form for a charity, brought in by the 2011 Charities Act.

A CIO:

  • is an incorporated form of charity which is not a company
  • only has to register with the Charity Commission and not Companies House
  • is only created once it is registered by the Commission
  • can enter into contracts in its own right and its trustees will normally have limited or no liability for the debts of the CIO

The CIO was created in response to requests from charities for a new structure which could provide some of the benefits of being a company, but without some of the burdens.

Applications for registration as a CIO opened on 10 December 2012 for organisations with an income between £5,000 and £250,000.  For an updated schedule of how you can register, visit the Charities Commission website.

The main benefits include:

  • the members and trustees are usually personally safeguarded from the financial liabilities the charity incurs, which is not normally the case for unincorporated charities
  • the charity has a legal personality of its own, enabling it to conduct business in its own name, rather than the name of the trustees

More details on the Charity Commission and Business Link websites, with comment and discussion on The Guardian.

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This article is from the Artlaw Archive of Henry Lydiate's columns published in Art Monthly since 1976, and may contain out of date material. The article is for information only, and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Readers should consult a solicitor for legal advice on specific matters. Artists can get free online legal information from Artquest.