Trustee Meetings Handbook
Published October 2020
It is a legal requirement for minutes to include whether since the previous meeting there has been any occasion when a decision has been made by the trustees and if so the time, place and date of such a decision, and the names of the trustees who participated in the decision.
It can be appropriate to make decisions between meetings for a number of reasons. Sometimes decisions need to be made urgently, such as whether to grant a lump sum payment due to serious ill health. Sometimes there is an established precedent to make certain routine decisions between meetings in order to keep meetings free for more strategic matters. For example, trustees could agree to authorise early retirement cases by e-mail between meetings. Similarly, it is appropriate to record decisions that have been made between meetings by a sub-committee of the trustees that is authorised to make those types of decisions. Each scheme will be different but any decisions made should be clearly documented.
It is important to note that any decisions made between meetings must have been made in accordance with the legal and governance framework within which the scheme operates. If that is not the case the validity of the decision may be compromised. In practical terms this means that any decisions must have been made in accordance with the scheme’s trust deed and rules (or any relevant company articles where there is a corporate trustee) and any agreed policies. This in turn means that the trustees must be familiar with these documents and policies, and able to refer to them when required.
It would not be acceptable, for example, for two out of the three trustees of a scheme to have a chance meeting and make a decision on something there and then. The third trustee would have been given no notice of a meeting and no opportunity to state his or her viewpoint. Any such decision might be invalid.
Although trustees can delegate decision-making it is important to remember that they are still responsible for the decision made. Delegating decisions is therefore something that should not be taken lightly.