On 4 October we held our firm’s annual third sector conference in our Edinburgh office. The theme for this year’s event was bravery and resilience in Scotland’s third sector – with a focus on helping those involved in third sector organisations get to grips with some of the latest legal developments affecting the sector…and, armed with that clearer understanding, to go forward with greater confidence.

I had the opening slot, tackling some of the recent developments in charity law/guidance and governance – recognising that the ever-increasing emphasis on best practice can start to get quite intimidating for charity trustees. Ironically, it is the more conscientious charity trustees who feel most threatened by the shoal of best-practice guidance that emerges year by year; and so there has to be a question about how best to ensure that we don’t deter more cautious people from taking on the role of charity trustees, while the more reckless ones carry on regardless. The message was simple - be informed, be proportionate, and be brave.

Martin Tyson, head of casework at OSCR, gave a really interesting presentation on the role of charity trustees and some of the trends and developments that OSCR are involved in at the moment. Martin referred to a number of the points raised in my presentation and gave some reassurance that OSCR takes a proportionate stance in considering governance issues within charities – a good message, and one that we do see applied in practice.  I am always really grateful to Martin and his colleagues for taking time out to contribute at events of this kind, particularly given the sort of workload that they have to deal with; and I’m sure that everyone present very much appreciated the opportunity to get an insight into these new developments.

We also had presentations from two of our leading specialists working in areas of law of particular relevance to the third sector. David Goodbrand’s session on “GDPR – it’s here, so what now” took a look at the GDPR since implementation in May this year, providing some reassurance to third sector organisations on what is expected of them under this new (and often intimidating) regime.  Morag Hutchison’s employment law update provided a whistle-stop tour of key employment law developments with a particular focus on those of special relevance to third sector organisations. Morag took us through a number of recent key decisions, covering a wide range of issues from discrimination to termination of employment, and of course - every employment lawyer’s favourite - TUPE.

The final presentation came from Charley Gavigan, CEO and co-founder of Brave Your Day Ltd, a company which aims to help those from all walks of life “brave their day”. Charley’s session was truly inspirational, and she used her own personal journey to illustrate her key themes. A key takeaway (which will forever stay in my head) was the message that the only difference between fear and excitement is your state of mind. It was great to hear about Charley’s hugely impressive contribution within the third sector over the last 30 years, against a background of major personal challenges…and, by the sounds of it, with some really exciting things still to come.

We hope that those who attended found the event useful and informative. As always, we would love to hear from you should you have any comments or queries that we can assist with.