The Anaphylaxis Campaign has issued a conflict of interest policy to all trustees upon appointment. The purpose of this paper is to remind trustees of their obligations regarding this. These issues become particularly pertinent for both trustees and staff of the Campaign as new ventures are taken forward.
This policy applies to trustees and also to staff.
- What is a conflict of interest and what issues does it raise?
A conflict of interest is any situation in which a trustee or member of staff’s personal interests, or interests which they owe to another body and those of the charity arise simultaneously or appear to clash. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can damage the reputation of the charity, so conflicts need to be managed carefully.
- Why we have a policy
Trustees have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, and in accordance with the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s governing document.
Conflicts of interests may arise where an individual’s personal or family interests and/or loyalties conflict with those of the Anaphylaxis Campaign. Such conflicts may create problems; they can:
- Inhibit free discussion;
- Result in decisions or actions that are not in the interests of the Anaphylaxis Campaign; and
- Risk the impression that The Anaphylaxis Campaign has acted improperly.
The aim of this policy is to protect both the organisation and the individuals involved from any appearance of impropriety.
- The declaration of interests
Accordingly, the Campaign expects all trustees and staff to declare their interests, and any gifts or hospitality received in connection with their role in the Anaphylaxis Campaign. A declaration of interests form is provided for this purpose, listing the types of interest that should be declared (see Appendix 1).
To be effective, the declaration of interests needs to be updated at least annually and also when any changes occur.
If trustees or members of staff are not sure what to declare, or whether/when their declaration needs to be updated, they need to err on the side of caution. Clarification and confidential guidance can be sought from the Chief Executive or Business Manager.
Interests will be recorded on the charity’s register of interests, which will be maintained by the Campaign’s Business Manager. The information provided will be processed in accordance with data protection principles as set out in the Data Protection Act 1998. Data will be processed only to ensure that trustees act in the best interests of the Anaphylaxis Campaign. The information provided will not be used for any other purpose.
- Identification of a conflict of interest
Conflicts of interest may come in a number of different forms:
- Direct financial gain or benefit to a trustee such as payment for services provided to the charity.
- The award of a contract to another organisation in which a trustee has an interest and from which a trustee will receive a financial benefit.
- The employment of a trustee in a separate post within the charity, even when the trustee has resigned in order to take up the employment.
- Indirect financial gain, such as employment by the charity of a spouse or partner of a trustee, where their finances are interdependent.
- Non financial gain, such as when a user of a trustee’s services is also a trustee.
- Conflict of loyalties, such as where a trustee is appointed by one of the charities funders or where a friend of a trustee is employed by the charity.
- The management of situations where conflicts of interest occur
Trustees who are users of the Campaign’s services, or the carer of someone who uses the Campaign’s service should not be involved in decisions that directly affect the service that the person, or the person they care for, receives. They should declare their interest at the earliest opportunity and withdraw from subsequent discussion. The same applies to a conflict for any other reason.
It is important that all such actions are recorded.
Trustees may, however, participate in discussions from which they indirectly benefit, for example, where the benefits are universal to all users, or where your benefit is minimal.
It is expected that trustees or staff members will declare any private interest which they have in an item to be discussed before any discussion of the item itself. If trustees fail to declare an interest that is known to the Chief Executive, the Business Manager and/or the chairman of the board, the Business Manager or chairman will declare that interest.
- Decisions taken where a trustee or member of staff has an interest.
In the event of the board having to decide upon a question in which a trustee or member of staff has an interest, all decisions will be made by vote, with a simple majority required. A quorum must be present for the discussion and decision; interested parties will not be counted when deciding whether the meeting is quorate. Interested board members may not vote on matters affecting their own interests.
All decisions under a conflict of interest will be recorded by the business manager and reported in the minutes of the meeting. The report will record:
- The nature and extent of the conflict
- An outline of the discussion
- The actions taken to manage the conflict
Where a trustee benefits from the decision, this will be reported in the annual report and accounts in accordance with SORP 2000.
A de minimis exception applies to contracts less than £100 in value. Random checks against the register of interest will be made on the award of contracts below this value. If the cumulative value of a series of small contracts exceeds £500, the trustees will operate the policy used for individual contracts over that sum.
The de minimis exemption does not apply to contracts of employment with the Campaign.
Independent external moderation will be used where conflicts cannot be resolved through the usual procedures.
- Managing contracts
If trustees have a conflict of interest, they must not be involved in managing or monitoring a contract in which they have an interest. Monitoring arrangements for such contracts will include provision for an independent challenge of bills and invoices and termination of the contract if the relationship is unsatisfactory.