Leslie Baptist Church

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organsiation (SCIO)

What does this mean?

Most Baptist churches, founded many years ago, are currently constituted as unincorporated voluntary associations (UVAs) which means they do not have a separate legal entity but all transactions etc are carried out by the Trustees or Office Bearers in the name of the Church. Many Churches are contemplating changing to an Incorporated structure instead.

Why Incorporation?

Most churches consider incorporation for two main reasons:

  1. IDENTITY-Incorporated bodies have their own identity in law (“legal personality”) and can therefore own property, enter into employment and other contracts, take out loans and sue and be sued in their own right. UVAs have to do these things in the names of their individual leaders as trustees for the UVA.

  2. PROTECTION-Incorporation provides general protection for trustees, as they are no longer the direct targets of legal action against the church, with the potential for unlimited liability even when they have not personally been at fault. Trustees can still incur some personal liability but this is generally restricted to extreme situations involving negligence, recklessness, illegal activity or operating outside charitable purposes.

The Form of Incorporation

The form of incorporation we are contemplating at Leslie is a SCOTTISH CHARITABLE INCORPORATED ORGANISATION (“SCIO”). Introduced in 2011, this still relatively new SCIO format allows charities to be incorporated, but to be regulated by a single body, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (“OSCR”). The advantage of this form for local churches is that it provides the identity and protection described above, while maintaining the relative simplicity of dealing only with OSCR. The adbice from the Baptist Union of Scotland is

"Therefore, while each church must reach its own conclusions and take its own legal and other advice required, this may well be the most appropriate structure for the vast majority of Baptist churches in Scotland"

We have collected together a list of some relevant documents for you to consider:-