Disability Access Panels

Every Access Panel in Scotland is autonomous and is an entity in its own right. SDEF is the umbrella organisation and not the governing body of access panels.

As such, each Access Panel runs slightly differently depending of its membership, geographical location and work of the panel

There are four basic types of structure that an Access Panel may use depending on the needs of the members, the work that they are involved in and their funding position.

  • All members are on the committee: this is usually when the membership is not large and there is room on the committee to accommodate all the members of the Access Panel. The Access Panel is governed by a ‘constitution’ and the ‘Trustees’ are the Office Bearers, i.e. Convener (or Chairperson), Secretary and Treasurer. There may be other office bearers such as Vice Convener, Minutes Secretary, Membership Secretary, Press Officer, etc. 
  • The management Committee of an Access Panel will usually be responsible for the running of an Access Panel when that panel has quite a lot of members and there are too many to form a cohesive and workable size committee. Similar to a Panel where all members are on the committee the Trustees will be the Office Bearers elected at an AGM or Additional General Meeting. (For Draft Constitution please see Appendix 2) 
  • SCIO (The Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation) is a new legal form for registered Scottish charities. The SCIO is a corporate body which is a legal entity able to enter into contracts, employ staff, incur debts, own property, sue and be sued. As the transactions of the SCIO are undertaken by it directly, rather than by its charity trustees on its behalf, the charity trustees are in general protected from incurring personal liability. The SCIO also differs from other charities on the Register in that its existence is dependent upon its charitable status that is, upon being entered in the Register. For further information please see Appendix 1 sourced from OSCR or see this Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator pdf

Charity limited by guarantee
(Charity that is a limited company registered with Companies House). 

A Charity Limited by Guarantee is in some ways similar to a SCIO in that it is a legal entity in its own right and the organisation can take decisions in its own right as opposed to a group of members taking decisions in their names. In most cases the liability of the Charity Trustees is limited too, normally, £1.00. The Charity must be registered by Companies House and as such is subject to the wideranging duties and requirements set out by company law including duty to keep registers of members and directors.

What is a Company Limited by Guarantee? 

(Information from Small Firms Service Ltd) A guaranteed company does not have shares. The members of the company do not own the company but are the decision makers for the company. Therefore members have no claim to any surplus that the company may make and do not have any claim upon the assets of the company. The members of the company may appoint Directors often called ‘Trustees’, who are given the responsibility for creating and implementing policies for the company. The Directors also enjoy limited liability, provided that they have not acted negligently, or fraudulently, and have not allowed the guaranteed company to continue trading when it was insolvent (this is known as “wrongful trading”). 

The constitution of the company limited by guarantee is the Memorandum & Articles of Association. The Memorandum sets out the objects of the company and the powers of the company may be exercised to meet these objects. If the Access Panel is to be registered as a charity then the Memorandum must be acceptable to the Office of Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). The Memorandum will also state how much money the members of the company will guarantee to pay in the event of the company being wound up. 

For further information please see Small Firms Services Ltd website and Appendix 3 sourced from their website.